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What is Contrast Hydrotherapy?

Contrast hydrotherapy is the technique using both hot and cold water to treat certain ailments.

  • Cold water or applications are helpful for acute injuries (meaning they have happened in the last week or so) because it will work to reduce inflammation and activate immune cells

  • Hot water or application is more indicated for chronic injuries as there is no longer any acute inflammation happening and so the heat will just help to relax the muscles and joints and bring blood flow to the area

When we combine these two temperatures together, we’re getting the benefits of both!

  • As we expose ourselves to hot water the blood vessels open, or vasodilate, increasing blood flow to an area

  • As we expose ourselves to cold water, the blood vessels close, or vasoconstrict, decreasing blood flow to an area

With contrast hydrotherapy, we are opening & closing the blood vessels rapidly. This can help to promote

blood flow to the area, improve circulation and enhance the lymphatic drainage, working to improve the immune system.

Contrast hydrotherapy may be beneficial for:

  • Most injuries

  • Planter fasciitis

  • Chronic edema or swelling

  • Arthritis

  • Improving the immune system

  • Chronic fatigue

How to Perform

Contrast Hydrotherapy

Contrast hydrotherapy should be performed within a 3:1 ratio of hot to cold water and should always be ended on cold!

This can be done:

  • In a shower on the whole body

  • With a shower head on a specific area

  • As a foot bath alternating from hot water to cold

  • With a hot, wet towel, followed by a cold, wet towel on a specific area

An example would be:

  • Hot towel or water on the ailment for 3 minutes followed by a cold towel or water on the ailment for 1 minute.

  • You’d repeat this 3-4 times, ending on cold!

When should Contrast Hydrotherapy NOT be used?

You should avoid

doing contrast hydrotherapy with:

  • A blood clot such as a deep vein thrombosis

  • High blood pressure

  • Specific heart conditions

  • Open wounds

  • Decreased skin sensations such as peripheral neuropathy (otherwise you could burn yourself if you can’t feel the temperature)

Dr. Samantha Allen, ND All Systems Wellness



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