Contrast bathing is a great way to increase circulation and reduce pain with many musculoskeletal pathological symptoms such as aches, pains and inflammation. In order to get the most out of your contrast bath use the following guidelines:
- Find two tubs large enough to submerge the affected limb (most often a hand or foot). Fill the tubs with water; one with warm or hot water (no more than 38 degrees Celsius please, we don’t want to burn ourselves!), and the other with cool or cold water (at least 10 degrees Celsius cooler than the warm or hot tub).
- Submerge the affected limb in the warm or hot water first. Let the limb rest in the water for anywhere from 2 to 20 minutes.
- Take the limbs out of the warm or hot water, and submerge in the cool or cold water. You should spend half the time with the affected limb submerged in the cool or cold water than you spent submerged in the warm or hot water. If you spent 2 minutes in the warm water you should spend one minute in the cool water; if you spent 20 minutes in the warm water, you should spend 10 minutes in the cool water, and so on.
- Alternate between the warm or hot and cool or cold water with the 2:1 ratio at least 3 times. Always end the contrast bath with the affected limb submerged in the cool or cold water.