Yesterday we spoke about the benefits of cold showers in #36alive 102. Today it’s all about combining the healing benefits of cold water with the heat of the sauna.
There’s a good reason there are showers next to the sauna at your local gym, and if you choose to use them, you’ll soon notice how beneficial the combination of hot and cold can be. If you’re looking to ‘detox’ this Spring, this could also be a very useful way to really clean and cleanse the body.
Sweat lodges, saunas and steam rooms have been used for thousands of years for both physical and ceremonial purposes. When we step into a sauna, blood vessels dilate and expand, allowing for free blood flow, and more blood spread across the whole body, especially throughout the extremities. When we subject ourselves to a cold shower, the blood rushes to the core of the body. Now, combine the two and you’ll begin to create a pump-like action, with the blood moving throughout the body, encouraging greater distribution of nutrients, the ability to unblock arteries, and enhanced healing from injuries.
You’ll notice that if you move from a sauna to a cold shower, the impact of the cold water upon the warm skin will start to turn the skin red, and the capillaries become more visible. This is a good thing, and means that blood is flowing to where it needs to go in the body, healing tired or sore muscle tissue, and encouraging healthy cell regeneration. Injuries can really benefit and heal in double time if this practice is applied after the initial inflammation has reduced. If you want to enhance your experience and benefits even more, try dry body brushing just before you start the process!
A few safety tips:
There is likely to be a health and safety notice outside your sauna. Make sure you read it, and never stay in the sauna for as long as is recommended, or for as long as is comfortable for you. If you begin to feel dizzy or uncomfortable, step out of the sauna immediately.
When you take a cold shower, ensure you’re only under the cold water for a couple of minutes maximum if you’re swapping between warm and cold. If you stay for too long and then try to warm up too quickly afterwards, the cold blood from the body’s extremities mixes with the warm blood at the core of the body, potentially causing ‘after drop’, or cold shock.
If you’re overcoming illness or injury, or you’re particularly sensitive, it’s a good idea to start slow. There’s no rush when it comes to using heat and cold in a beneficial way, and what suits some people won’t work for others. Start with small temperature changes, or opt for cool water instead of cold if you’re having difficulty at first.