One of my favorite ways to rejuvenate after a workout or on a recovery day is the contrast therapy of heat and cold. Here’s how to proceed:
The traditional ritual of contrast therapy is to go through the hot – cold cycle a couple of times , then taking a rest to drink tea or water, eating a light a snack and allowing your body settle back to a normal temperature.
Working up a sweat will also help release toxins, excess water, lactic acid and salt retained by the body.
Wear or bare?
This decision is based on the facility’s policy. If the rooms are not gender-mingled, you may be able to relax in the buff, or with a towel on if you prefer (be sure to ask about towel policy as well, and bring a couple of your own if they only provide one). If they are co-ed, you’ll probably have to wear a swimsuit. Choose an older one with no metallic accents that could burn your skin.
First, take a shower to remove body oils, makeup or other materials before you enter the steam or sauna, steam room, then-
Dry off thoroughly
This is why you’ll need extra towels. You want your skin, bathing suit (and hair, after the cold plunge) to be as dry as possible before entering the heat, this way you will sweat more quickly without excess water acting as a conduit.
Time to sweat
You may sit or lie down in the sauna or steam room, and it’s wise to place another, dry towel between you and the bench. Listen to your body. When you have had enough, leave. If you lie down, take a moment to sit before standing up.
For your first time, stay only as long as you are comfortable, or mildly uncomfortable, and no longer than 20 minutes. If you begin to take sauna or steam regularly ( 2-3 times per week), you may increase to 30 per session.
The cold plunge pool offers the body a tremendous, invigorating jolt as it stimulates circulation and the immune system, generating a therapeutic effect on your entire body. The cold water causes the release of endorphins and hormones, creating an analgesic effect that can alleviate joint pain and muscle stresses as well, this is why it’s so great for recovery.
If the facility does not have a cold pool, you can use a very cold shower.
Sit or lie down (keeping your head higher than your heart) to give your body time to return its temperature and pulse rate to normal. Sip water or tea.
At least three rounds is recommended for the full benefit of the contrast therapy. Rinse off after each heat session, dry off prior to heat session. Rest once again prior to dressing.
The elderly and those with diabetes or circulatory conditions should check with their doctor prior to beginning to take saunas. Pregnant women and children under five years of age should avoid saunas.