I love contrast showers as they increase my alertness and make me feel vigorous and alive. The way I take them is a s follows. If I feel tired and hot I start with cold water (as cold as I can tolerate) and thoroughly cool down all parts of my body. This usually takes 30 seconds to 2 minutes. Then I switch to hot water (as hot as I can tolerate) and again warm up the whole body, again for anything between 30 seconds to 2 minutes.
In the winter I tend to use hot water for more time and in the summer I tend to use cold water more. I repeat this procedure 2 to 5 times, always listening to signals from my body. I do not force myself to do something that my body doesn’t want and if one day I don’t feel like it I just don’t contrast shower.
At the end of this cycle of intense temperature variations, I calm down my system by using cool water (not cold) followed by luke-warm water (not hot). Finally, I finish with water at exactly the same temperature as my body. So the full routine could be summarized as follows:
- Cold/Hot: x2~5 cycles, 1-3 minutes each
- Cool/Luke warm: x1~2 cycles, 1-3 minutes each
- Neutral: x1~2 minutes
How to apply a contrast shower only on the areas affected by cellulite
If you are only going to “work” only on your thighs and hips then you may skip the cool/luke warm cycle, as well as the neutral part of the routine, so that you achieve maximum effect. For full body contrast showering it is important to somewhat calm down the system, otherwise you may feel cold later, especially in the winter. You may also get over-stimulated. On the other hand, there is nothing wrong with really stimulating your thighs only, in fact this is exactly what we want to achieve. And as the stimulation is only localized, you will not feel too cold or too “hyper” with a thigh-and-bottom-only contrast shower.
But be careful, applying a contrast shower to affect the cellulite on the stomach, waist, chest or upper arms, may give you a cold or diarrhea, as these areas are too close your internal organs, which don’t normally like cold. Also, be careful when you work on your inner thighs or the buttocks not to irritate the intimate areas with the cold/hot water sequence.
How to maximize the effects of contrast showers
The best time to apply a good anti-cellulite cream is immediately after a contrast shower, as the latter will increase the effectiveness and absorption of the cream. In turn, the best time to have a contrast shower is immediately after exercise, which will produce a synergistic effect. The best time to body brush is immediate after a contrast shower and immediately before applying a cream. And finally, the best time to have an anti-cellulite treatment is immediately after exercise (as I explain in another article) and immediately before a contrast shower. So the complete routine should be something like this:
- Cellulite cream
- Cellulite treatment (or self-massage)
- Contrast shower
- Body brushing
- Cellulite cream
You may include or take out of this routine as many or as few steps as you want. This is an ideal routine whose full application depends on time, and also on the cost of the treatments and the creams. Body brushing, as I explain in another article on this site, is not as effective as beauty therapists and journalists want you to believe, and the only reason I suggest it is as an exfoliation method to help increase the absorption of the anti-cellulite cream you may be using.
Neither a contrast shower, nor self massage or body brushing can replace the effectiveness of a good anti-cellulite treatment, especially a good professional anti-cellulite massage, but it costs nothing and can be used as a no-cost add-on to your course of professional cellulite treatments. In addition, by maximizing the absorption and effectiveness of your cellulite cream, a contrast shower will make the money you paid for the cream go further. And if you don’t have cellulite why not use contrast showering to offer a pleasant micro-massage to your thighs and buttocks and therefore avoid cellulite? Of course the combination of contrast showers with muffins and caramel macchiatos will not keep the cellulite at bay for long, but with a reasonable diet contrast showers should help you prevent cellulite. Generally speaking, the more naughty food you eat (you know, fats, starches and sugars) and the more sedentary you are, then the more you have to receive professional cellulite treatments and use cellulite creams to avoid cellulite.
Other forms of contrast showering
Athletes and sports people use contrast baths to recover from or prevent sports injuries and post-exercise muscle pain (also known as DOMS - Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness). Alternating sauna or steam bath with a cold water plunge is another form of "contrast showering". Some athletes go as far as immersing themselves in a hot bath first and then plunging into a tub filled with ice cubes. I wouldn't advise covering your whole body in ice cubes, but immersing your legs in a really cold plunge is a fantastic way to stay firm and smooth.
You must not take very cold, very hot or contrast showers if you suffer from a diagnosed or suspected heart disease, circulatory and respiratory conditions, diabetes, asthma, if you have a cold or other infection, if you faint easily and if you are in poor health in general. In all cases if in doubt, do not do it unless you consult your doctor first. Contrast showers are very powerful and therefore must be treated with respect. In general, localized contrast showers on the calves and thighs are pretty safe, whilst full body contrast showers produce full body effects and must be treated with even more respect. So if you are uncertain or unless you are of very good health, ask your doctor first before applying the advice contained in this article.
The worst time to have a contrast shower is before going to bed as it will probably keep you awake for some time. One of the best times is to have it first thing in the morning, as it can help you wake up - but only if you are brave enough! Personally I can only do that in the summer!
This article is continued from: Hot and cold showers (contrast showers) to boost circulation and skin firmness and reduce cellulite