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The Contrast Shower: A Simple Technique For Recovery And Energy

The Contrast Shower

When it comes to recovery techniques after a workout it seems every other month there’s a new ‘thing’ that everyone is using, be it EMS stimulators on their quads, an expensive percussion massaging tool or a cryotherapy chamber, sure these are all great tools for recovery but all of which are time consuming and require quite a bit of cash.

The contrast shower has been forgotten.

I’d argue that in terms of recovering from inflammation and reducing delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) the contrast shower is the best technique out there.
You don’t need to buy any fancy equipment or go to a recovery or cryotherapy clinic to use it either, all you need is your shower, roughly 10 minutes and some mental fortitude.

The contrast shower, often also referred to as constrating or constrast hydrotherapy involves alternating between hot and cold water in the shower for a number of rounds.

How Does The Contrast Shower Work?

The constrast shower works on the premise that heat causes our blood vessels to dilate, expanding and increasing blood flow while cold temperatures cause our blood vessels to constrict, reducing blood flow.

The act of regularly alternating from hot water to cold water in the shower causes a ‘pumping’ effect.

The act of these pumps of blood flow throughout the body flushes lactic acid and assists removing toxins – thus speeding up our recovery between workouts.

Here Are A Few Other Contrast Shower Benefits You’ll Notice…

  • Improved circulation overall
  • Stronger immune system
  • Relief from symptoms of depression & anxiety

Recommended Contrast Shower Duration & Intervals

The key to contrast showering correctly is ensuring you’re working in a 3 – 1 hot to cold ratio.

For every minute of cold water exposure you should have 3 minutes of hot water exposure.

Below are a couple of the contrast shower routines I regularly use…

Contrast Shower Protocol #1 (12 minutes)

  • 3 minutes hot
  • 1 minute cold
  • 3 minutes hot
  • 1 minute cold
  • 3 minutes hot
  • 1 minute cold

Contrast Shower Protocol #2 (4 minutes)

  • 90 seconds hot
  • 30 seconds cold
  • 90 seconds hot
  • 30 seconds cold

Constrast Shower Protocol #3 (24 minutes)

  • 6 minutes hot
  • 2 minutes cold
  • 6 minutes hot
  • 2 minutes cold
  • 6 minutes hot
  • 2 minutes cold

What About Cold Showering?

Cold Shower Benefits

I attribute cold showers to many of my successes in life. The uncomfortable act of forcing your body to withstand the freezing cold temperature of the water gushing out of your shower as the faucet is turned as far to the ‘cold’ side as possible is not only invigorating, but also provides many health and well-being benefits for men.

Most men are unaware of the benefits of cold showers and miss out on an EASY way to improve their life!

A few years ago the only time I’d experienced the uncomfortable feeling of a cold shower was when our hot water system was not functioning, however today it is a habit I perform daily.

After you finish reading this post I challenge you to take a cold shower… no excuses, no bullshit. It’ll change your life. Let’s take a look at some of those benefits of cold showering that I alluded to earlier:

Improved Hair & Skin

Warm showers, although enjoyable and relaxing, offer no tangible benefits to our hair and skin—unlike cold showers. The cold water from your shower will result in the tightening of pores and cuticles, which aids in detoxification (as bad toxins are essentially squeezed of out your skin during this process). During a cold shower our hair cuticles are also closed, resulting in stronger hair.

Increased Testosterone

With an increase in testosterone levels, cold showers can turn you from a weak little boy into a man. In 1993 a study was conducted by the Thrombosis Research Institution of England which identified a correlation between individuals who take cold showers regularly and higher testosterone levels.
Although this rise in testosterone may not equate to instant increases in lean muscle mass, I can certainly attest to cold showers increasing both libido and overall energy levels.

Aids Post Exercise Recovery

Exposure to cold water and ice are known to reduce soreness and increase muscular recovery after strenuous exercise. This is why many elite athletes take ice baths. The logistics and process of setting up an ice bath is a handful—instead opting to take a more convenient cold shower will provide a similar boost in the recovery process after exercise.

Relief of Depression

The Department of Radiation Oncology at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine performed a study that suggests regular cold showers assist in battling depression. The “blue spot” of the brain is said to be stimulated by cold water therapy. This is due to noradrenaline, a chemical in the brain that has been linked to the mitigation of depression.

Increase in Discipline

There is no greater discipline-builder than the cold shower. Our body can withstand the cold water without a problem, but the mind will quickly want to abort and get you out of there. If you start your day with a 3-5 minute cold shower, I guarantee you that you will not be making excuses or delaying other tasks you have been avoiding undertaking. Instead, you’ll be setting the tone for a successful day.

Insane Levels of Energy & Invigoration

After stepping out of the shower you’ll feel like you’ve just ingested a double-shot espresso. Regardless of how lethargic you’re feeling in the morning, the moment that ice cold water hits your skin your heart and breathing while dramatically increase. As your body attempts to adapt to the situation at hand you’re left feeling completely energized.

Your Mission

Don’t take things to the extreme right off the starting line. If you’re jumping straight into an ice bath or a 10-minute freezing cold shower, I suspect you’ll become overwhelmed and disregard the whole cold showering ideology. Instead, I challenge you to slowly start to turn that faucet in your shower further towards the cold side. Alternatively you can jump straight into contrast showering – alternating between hot and cold water for 20 second intervals to condition yourself.

Yes, initially you’ll squirm, whimper, and experience erratic breathing, but after a few weeks of consistent cold showers they’ll begin to become relaxing, invigorating, and will leave you in a zen-like state.

What’s Your Take On Contrast & Cold Showers?

Scott J.
Scott J.https://ignorelimits.com
I’m SJ. I’m a fitness enthusiast and published author. I transformed my body from a skinny fat 135lbs with 18% body fat to a solid 192lbs at 8% body fat. I became qualified in a field I was passionate about. I founded several online businesses that allow me to pursue ideas and projects in my life that I am passionate about without having to constantly worry about money. I published several eBooks explaining the training and dieting techniques I used to achieve the body I have today. I learnt a plethora of new information on dieting and fitness by reading and applying what I read, to find out what does work and what doesn’t work, because as I’m sure you’ve noticed the health and fitness industry is full of non-sense claims and BS. I found out what was true and what worked for me and applied that knowledge. And you bet I had fun during the whole process.

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