At Enhanced Wellness, we are proud to offer Contrast Therapy in Bluffton, SC as a natural method of pain management and post-workout recovery.
What Is Contrast Therapy?
Contrast therapy, commonly known as Contrast Bath Therapy or Contrast Hydrotherapy, is an effective method of stimulating muscles and tissues by contrasting hot and cold temperatures. This is typically done using a water bath, where all or part of the body is immersed first in hot water, then in ice water, and is normally repeated over a 20-30 minute session. Normally done in tubs or small pools, this technique can help to improve blood circulation throughout the body.
Contrast therapy is used to help decrease pain and inflammation, increase range of motion and strength, and improve functional mobility. In addition, it is also known to treat conditions such as edema, stiff joints, inflammation of soft tissues, muscle spasms, and painful limbs. This form of therapy is typically used by elite athletes to treat muscle damage and to speed up recovery after injuries. However, there are many benefits that the everyday person stands to gain from this therapy as well.
How Does Contrast Therapy Work?
The rapid changes being produced in your circulatory system lies at the heart of contrast therapy. Many of us have already experimented with one form of contrasting therapy or another, for example, if you’ve ever applied a heating pad after icing an affected muscle. Full immersion techniques such as Enhanced Wellness’ Contrast Bath Therapy, works very similarly, except at a significantly higher level.
This type of therapy is usually administered with a set of baths or small pools. When a part or all of the body is immersed in hot water, small blood vessels called capillaries respond by opening up in a process called vasodilation. The opposite is true once you are immersed in cold water, with the capillaries getting smaller in a process known as vasoconstriction. This rapid opening and closing of the blood vessels near the site of an injured or sore area creates a pumping action that is thought to help decrease swelling and inflammation. Common conditions managed by contrast therapy include:
- Foot sprains
- Ankle sprains
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Soft tissue trauma
While some of the most common areas applied are:
- Lower Legs
Deep tissue areas such as one’s hip or back, are located too deep within the body for this therapy to be as effective. If you are having issues in one of these deep tissue areas, then it’s best to consult a member of our team for the best methods available for your condition.
What Are the Benefits of Contrast Therapy?
Although contrast therapy has been around in one form or another for many years, there still isn’t a large work of research devoted to the topic. However, there is some evidence that this therapy produces the following benefits:
According to a 2017 meta-analysis, contrast therapy is shown to improve the recovery of athletes after team sports. Along with helping them recover from fatigue 24-48 hours after a game, contrast therapy has also been shown to aid in decreasing the perception of fatigue as well. Meaning that besides the physiological changes happening to the body, contrast therapy can also bring mentally soothing effects.
Decreases Muscle Soreness
After putting in a hard day at the gym, it’s expected to feel the “burn” or muscle soreness the next day (or days if you just started your new year’s resolution). Studies have also found contrast therapy to improve both the soreness and weakness following a hard workout, compared to passive resting alone. One factor that should be noted, however, is that other popular therapies such as solely cold water immersion or cryotherapy have produced similar results.
Following an injury, it is common for your body to have an inflammatory response to the area which can exert pain and pressure. This is due to the sudden flow of fluid and white blood cells to that area. Studies have found contrast therapy to aid with lessening swelling in affected areas.
Removes Excess Lactic Acid
Lactic acid build-up is commonplace when you commit yourself to a strenuous and difficult workout routine. Though it’s normal, this build-up of lactic acid contributes to the soreness and tiredness you feel after such a routine. Research shows that contrast therapy can decrease the amount of lactic acid in your body, leading to faster recoveries.
What Are the Risks of Contrast Therapy?
When done correctly, contrast therapy poses little risk to the body. However, the skin can be damaged if the water is too hot or cold, in addition, heart rhythm problems (heart arrhythmias) could also occur with improper treatment. One of the best ways to mitigate these issues is by doing this therapy under medical or professional supervision. Even if you have the capacity to comfortably administer this treatment in your home, a trained professional can regulate and maintain water temperatures while consistently making sure that you are not over-exerting yourself.
In general, the temperature of the hot bath should not exceed 98-110 degrees Fahrenheit, while the cold bath should not be lower than 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit. With the extremes of temperatures being used, it’s important to talk to your doctor before going through with such therapy. This therapy is not safe for all conditions, especially if you have:
- Open wounds
- Fresh injuries (the heat can actually aggravate this area)
- High blood pressure
- Deep vein thrombosis
It is also highly advisable to stay well hydrated during your contrast therapy sessions, as a lack of water can quickly lead to dehydration and low blood pressure.
Enhanced Wellness Contrast Therapy
Contrast therapy can be an amazing tool for those who are looking to boost their overall health or recover from a strenuous workout or injury. Our contrast therapy experts will work with you to provide a soothing passive therapy that will leave you feeling revitalized.
Book an appointment with Enhanced Wellness today if you are ready to
- Lessen muscle fatigue
- Decrease pain, swelling, and lactic acid buildup following intense exercise.
- Decrease recovery time from shallow tissue injuries
All in under an hour! The best investment you can make is in yourself and your health. Call us today to book your appointment.