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By Marlien Wright | 31 Dec, 2022
Cold plunge bath.

The reset and down regulating benefits of contrast therapy is powerful. Yesterday was a good day. We started the morning with a sublime Contrast Therapy session at The Athletic Recovery Centre, De Waterkant in Cape Town (they also have a branch in Gardens, Cape Town).

We did 3 cycles 90 seconds in the cold water (at 5.5 degrees Celsius, yikes!!) and then 15minutes in the 65 degree celsius infrared sauna (bliss). The heat and cold in these cycles has significant reset, recovery and down regulating benefits. Below a few of the benefits you can expect should you decide to try this practice:

Studies have shown that the benefits of using an infrared sauna include:

  • Relief from sore muscles
  • Increase recovery from strength-training sessions
  • Relief from joint pain such as arthritis
  • Improved sleep
  • Relaxation
  • Detoxification
  • Weight loss
  • Clear and tighter skin
  • Improved circulation
  • Aid with chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Reduce blood pressure

Ice bath’s are believed to have the following benefits:

  • Constrict blood vessels and flush waste products, like lactic acid, out of the affected tissues.
  • Decrease metabolic activity and slow down physiological processes
  • Reduce swelling and tissue breakdown
  • Then, with rewarming, the increased blood flow was believed to speed up circulation, and in turn, improve the healing process.

What are the benefits of combining cold & heat therapy:

Contrast Therapy is blend of sauna, ice bath, and breath work designed for full body revitalization— utilizing the benefits of heat in the sauna, combined with the invigorating process of an ice bath and the composure of intentional breathing.

Your veins go from constriction in the cold, to dilation in the heat — getting your body pumping new blood to all areas, and flushing out metabolic waste in the process.

Not only does exposure to the extreme heat and extreme cold produce an extended cardiovascular workout, but under the duress your body reduces lactic acid buildup in muscles, while releasing a variety of growth hormones and proteins.

To best manage the intensity of this exchange, a down-regulating breathing process is reccommended— intentionally shifting your nervous system from fight or flight mode (sympathetic) to a relaxed and energy saving state (parasympathetic). This technique is encouraged to be used in the processes as it positively regulates your body’s physical, physiological, psychological responses to the high heat and low cold.

I could immediately feel the benefits directly after our session, a mixture of calmly energised and cleansed (inside and out) feeling. This lasted the entire day and as a result also benefited my quality of sleep.

I love the sauna, and I love cold immersion, and separately both have benefited and served me well over the years to switch of my ‘monkey-mind’ and drop back into a calm and embodied state. Together they are a powerful reset and CNS down regulating experience.

Thank you for reading, and wishing you some healing shivering and sweating ahead.

Marlien Wright

In dedication to your radiant well+being

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