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Do you like it hot? Or cold? Water, that is.

One therapy that I find I'm constantly recommending to patients is contrast hydrotherapy. Contrast Hydrotherapy is a therapy that uses applications of hot and cold water to an area of the body that is tight, aching or inflamed, especially if the pain is not resolving completely. Tight muscles don't receive blood well. The heat and the cold act like a pump, relaxing and contracting the tissue, moving blood in and out. This aids the body in removing waste and toxins and bringing in nutrients and oxygen which tissue needs to heal. The cold is what does the work. When you apply cold to the surface of the body, the body must move blood to the surface to maintain body temperature. This is what encourages blood movement and gives the body the opportunity to do what it does naturally and heal.


NOW I know not everyone likes cold. You can always start with cold tap water and as you get used to it, add more ice. But remember to always end in cold. And try not to use ice directly on tissue. Ice can cause too much constriction of the tissue and the goal of this therapy is movement. Ice water is better. Using only ice or only heat can be beneficial in relieving pain but using them both together is better to help the healing process.


I used to do this therapy on my arms all the time when I was a full time massage therapist. After doing 6 hours of massage in a day, the hydrotherapy always helped relax the muscles in my arms and hands. They felt lighter. It really saved me as a new massage therapist. I also recommended it to a patient who had a partial muscle tear in her calf from a biking accident. She said it was the only thing that helped. The hydrotherapy with other therapies got her back to dancing like she was before the accident.


Contrast Hydrotherapy directions:

Apply heat for 3 minutes then cold for 1 minute for 3 rounds, so 12 minutes total.

A heating pad and gel pack can be used. Or towels soaked in hot and cold water and wrung out. Or you can fill one side of the sink with hot water (but not hot enough to burn) and the other with cold or ice water.


I challenge you to give this a try and explore other forms of water therapy that may be beneficial to you on your journey to health. Your health matters.

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