When it comes to weather, most people prefer a temperature that’s neither too hot nor too cold — think summer in Italy or winter in Hawaii.
In terms of your health, however, more extreme temperatures have a lot to offer. Case in point: hot and cold spa treatment.
By combining the benefits of both very warm and very chilly temperatures, hot and cold spa treatment can have a noticeably positive impact on both your mental and physical well-being by:
1. Improving your mood.
2. Improving circulation.
3. Reducing inflammation and muscle pain.
Let’s find out more about the benefits hot and cold spa treatment and why you might want to give it a go.
1. A Natural Mood Booster
Strange as it may sound, both hot and cold treatments have been linked to better moods and mental health.
Let’s start with hot water immersion — that is to say, soaking in warm water as you would in a hot tub or bath.
Take for instance the 2018 study titled “Hyperthermic baths for Depression” conducted by researchers from the University of Freiburg in Germany. In the study, some patients with depressive disorder were instructed to take two hot baths per week for eight weeks (16 baths total), while others were instructed to engage in physical exercise twice per week.
As a result, the patients who took hot baths saw a significantly larger decrease in depressive symptoms than those who engaged in physical exercise.
Cold water therapy may also have a positive impact on mood. In 2008, an article titled “Adapted cold shower as a potential treatment for depression” was published in the journal Medical Hypotheses.
In that article, researchers from the Virginia Commonwealth University predicted that patients who take one to two cold showers per day could see an improvement in depressive symptoms, with preliminary tests supporting that hypothesis.
That’s because exposure to cold causes the body to release noradrenaline and beta-endorphins, two neurotransmitters that can have antidepressant effects.
Together, it’s possible that both hot water immersion and cold water therapy could greatly improve users’ moods.
2. Improved Circulation
On the physical side of things, both hot and cold spa treatment can positively affect circulation.
That’s because hot and cold temperatures help to improve circulation in two different ways.
Heat improves circulation by dilating blood vessels and sending an increased amount of blood toward the skin.
A 2003 study titled “Skin blood flow in adult human thermoregulation: how it works, when it does not, and why” published in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings explained this phenomenon in-depth.
The study showed that “local warming of the skin can cause maximal vasodilation in healthy humans.” In other words, a great deal of blood gets pushed to the skin.
On the other hand, cold temperatures cause blood to flow away from the skin and toward vital organs. As stated in a 2010 Harvard Medical School article titled “Out in the cold,” our bodies do this in order to prevent heat from escaping through the skin, as well as to keep our most important organs nice and warm.
So, hot and cold spa treatment could function to increase circulation to all parts of the body, from the skin to vital organs.
However, it should be noted that this increase in circulation may need to be avoided by those with heart conditions. If you have a heart condition, consult with your physician before engaging in hot and cold spa treatment.
3. Say Goodbye to Inflammation and Muscle Pain
As if improved depressive symptoms and increased circulation weren’t enough, hot and cold spa treatment can also help to reduce inflammation and soothe sore muscles. Both of these effects can be beneficial for a wide range of conditions, as well as for general relief.
Let’s look at the guidelines provided by the Cleveland Clinic in a 2014 article titled “Should You Use Ice or Heat for Pain?”
According to the clinic, cold treatments:
● Numb pain.
● Ease inflammation.
● Constrict blood vessels.
● Limit bruising.
This makes cold treatment ideal for things like tendinitis, pulled muscles, injured tendons and gout flare-ups.
On the other hand, hot treatments:
● Relax muscles.
● Relieve joint stiffness.
● Increase blood flow.
This makes hot treatment a great option for things like tendinosis, sprains, headaches and arthritis.
Want to reap the mood-boosting, circulation-promoting and pain-relieving benefits of hot and cold spa treatment?
Try soaking in your hot tub for 45 minutes twice a week, setting the temperature to 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Additionally, take a two- to three-minute cold shower once or twice per day, setting the temperature to about 68 degrees Fahrenheit.
Feel free to apply localized hot and cold therapy as needed, which you can do with hot water bottles, heating pads and ice packs.
With the right combination of hot and cold spa treatment, you and your family can enjoy better moods, improved blood flow, less inflammation and reduced pain.
Want to learn more about hot and cold water therapy? Check out our previous blog post on the topic here.