Packed Schedule? One Minute Tip for a Healthier You, Naturally
With treatments, I'm all about maximizing ease. I strive to integrate beneficial therapies into every day life to reap optimal benefits that comes from consistency.
Who doesn't love something that increases overall vitality, recruits the immune system, lowers stress and more importantly takes under one minute?
Hydrotherapy is about as grass-roots Naturopathic medicine as it gets. Using water to treat disease and maintain health, elder docs opened Sanitariums that still exist in Europe today.
If you're looking for a hydrotherapy getaway, there's a number of hydrotherapy spas or hot springs, ranging from man-made or naturally based to wild. One of my personal favourites is Scandinave Spa in Whistler, B.C.
The intention of hydrotherapy is to improve the quality of blood in circulation by increasing red and white blood cells, oxygen, and nutrients, while removing metabolic wastes and balancing the nervous system.
How does water do all that?
What's important to note, water isn't responsible for the therapy's effect. Water is the perfect medium because it's fluid and can readily absorb and hold heat. The enhanced capacity of the body to heal is derived from the temperature of the water, or more importantly the temperature changes applied to or within the body.
When water is applied to the skin, the nervous system responds, causing changes in circulation of blood and lymph that alters metabolism at cellular, tissue, organ, and system levels of the body.
Basically, our vessels enlarge (vasodilate) or tighten (vasoconstrict) to change where, how much and how fast blood moves. This is controlled by a number of factors including the temperature of the water, the duration, and the area of application.
Interestingly, portion of the skin's surface hosts a reflex relation with an internal organ or area of blood vessels. For example, the back of the neck corresponds to the mucous membranes in the nose. A long, cold application to the back of the neck will cause vasoconstriction that will stop a bloody nose. Neat, huh?!
AT HOME HYDRO
This method will increase oxygen absorption and carbon dioxide excretion, and increase tone of the tissue and skin. It will also increase red and white blood cell count that will give energy a kick and boost the immune system.
Not to mention, done correctly, it will also increase your metabolism.
Check, check and check!
At the end of your soothing hot, relaxing shower, I challenge you to crank down the dial, baby!
Drop the temperature and stand (or dance around!) in the cold stream for up to 60 seconds.
This short blast of cold works for a number of reasons:
- The abrupt cold temperature initially causes vasoconstriction which stimulates the circulatory system.
- A protective reflexive effect makes the body react causing vasodilation to bring up the skin's temperature.
- The contrast in temperature creates a "pumping" effect of your vessels (dilation to constriction to dilation) which is informally called your "peripheral heart", much like your muscles help pump blood back to the heart. This will help move sluggish circulation or areas of congestion.
- The water pressure of the shower not only intensifies the treatment, but will allow you to tolerate colder temperatures. The input to your nerves from the water pressure competes with and will diminish the perception of cold. This is why a cold shower may feel more tolerable then getting into a cold pool.
After your shower, make sure to towel off well. You should begin to warm up when you get out of the shower, but if you find you're chilled, you've either gone too cold or too long. Towel off vigorously to create some friction to warm up.
Importantly, this cold follows a hot (not scalding) shower. The colder you go, the larger the difference in temperature, the greater the effect.
It's more important to have a greater difference in temperature than how long you tolerate it.
However, have a little compassion for yourself-- start slow and over time, work up to colder temperatures with each sequential shower.
Timing is very important! When you expose the body to this type of cold therapy for longer than one minute, the opposite effects begin to take place. The cold will decrease circulation and metabolism and lower the immune system.
Get in the habit of finishing your shower on cold. It's already built into your routine, so be brave and go for it!
Ever tried hydrotherapy? Let me know your experiences and favourite spots you to visit for nature cure.
Here's to little shower squeals and feeling damn good!