Contrast shower: What is it?
The contrast shower is a muscle recovery method that consists of alternating the temperature of the water between hot and cold. Studies suggest that a 6-minute contrast shower can help shorten muscle repair times. (3,4)
Some research (1) claims that taking cold showers can be beneficial in strengthening the immune system and reducing the incidence of SARS.
Additional benefits of taking a contrast shower are stimulating hair follicles (hair grows better and falls out less), cleansing of impurities from the skin, and muscle relaxation. (2)
The procedure should be done at least 3-4 times a week, if possible after a training session, to reap the benefits of a contrast shower.
How to take a contrast shower?
The steps to take a contrast shower are:
- Prime your body with warm water for 3-5 minutes.
- Turn on the cold water for 30-60 seconds.
- Turn on the hot water for 30-60 seconds.
- Alternate hot and cold water 3 to 5 times
- The final 30 seconds must be without water
- Dry the skin with a soft towel
Theoretically, there is one of the contraindications is the risk of hypothermia. When making the change with cold water, you must check that the skin does not look excessively pale. If you feel shaking or the cold is nasty, turn on the warm water. Nor should you use hot water to burn or hurt the skin.
It would help if you never took a contrast shower in a cold, drafty room. It is also recommended to clean the skin with a clean and soft towel. This will enhance the cleansing and health of the skin.
Contrast shower benefits
The benefits of the contrast shower have been confirmed in high-performance athletes. Improved muscle recovery times have been verified. The results were positive when doing this method for 6 minutes after running 3000 m at high intensity. (6)
As for the benefits of improving the immune system, the results are controversial. Some studies suggest that taking a cold shower regularly could reduce the chances of virus infections (SARS). (1) However, more studies are needed to confirm this benefit. On the other hand, it is believed that one of the effects of the contrast shower is to affect the natural production of melatonin for sleep.
As for the benefits of the contrast shower on the skin, no studies confirm that it affects the production of collagen, elastin, or other molecules related to the prevention of wrinkles. However, the temperature shock causes an expansion and compression of the pores that allow the elimination of impurities.
Contraindications of the contrast shower
When taking a contrast shower, try not to expose your head directly to water jets. Just let the waterfall on your collarbones and the back of your neck. The temperature contrast of the brain’s blood vessels can cause a sudden pressure jump. This can cause dizziness or even loss of consciousness, which is extremely dangerous in the shower.
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Malignant tumors
- Pregnancy and breastfeeding
- Fever and respiratory viral infections
- Skin diseases and infections
The contrast shower is one of the muscle recovery methods used by high performance athletes. In addition to shortening the repair times of the muscle fibers, one of the benefits of this method is to remove impurities from the skin and improve the hair’s health. Contraindications are for people with problems in the cardiovascular system, as well as it is not indicated during a cold or minor infection.