Melissa Rousseau of M•PARKE STUDIO educates us on one of my ABSOLUTE favorite methods of coping with inflammation, knocking out the first signs of a cold, and lymphatic stimulation. Serving as one of the most ancient forms of medicine from Ayurvedia to Native Americans, revel in Melissa's knowledge as she gives us the ins and outs of hydrotherapy from the convenience of your own home.
M | I am delighted to share with you my absolute #1 pain reducer, far exceeding any heavy duty pain medication that I’ve ever tried. And as someone who deals with severe, debilitating chronic pain every single day stemming from Late Stage Lyme Disease, I can attest to the brilliant healing powers of hydrotherapy, and specifically the effectiveness of contrast baths to rid inflammation and decrease, or even eliminate pain. On the occasions that I have been able to find a proper bath house, or if I’m lucky enough to find myself at one of my favorite getaways, the Kripalu Center in the Berkshires, where they have both an ice cold plunge pool and a hot tub, and I am able to indulge in my full body dunking routines, I without fail emerge feeling youthful, free of any stiffness or pain, and just completely revived. On a smaller scale, while I was working full time as a Muscular Therapist and Reiki Practitioner, I would come home and use contrast baths to soothe my achy, tired, hands and arms. My mind was always blown by the before and after difference in how I felt. Before being: could barely move, joints screaming in pain. The after: flexible, pain-free, completely renewed.
Contrast baths are a form of hydrotherapy that involve alternating immersions of your entire body or a body part in cold and hot water. The hot water causes vasodilation (the widening of the blood vessels) in the limb or body followed by the cold water which causes vasoconstriction. This alternating contraction and dilation increases blood circulation, white blood cell activity, allows for greater oxidation, and can help with soreness, swelling, inflammation, and the hastening of waste removal. It also positively affects the lymph system to move stagnant fluid along and out of the body. Contrast baths can be used to treat painful joints, muscles, mild sprains and repetitive strain injuries, can improve the elasticity of ligaments, help fractures to heal better, and is wonderful for arthritis.
Summer just so happens to be a glorious time to take advantage of the sun’s heat and any cold water ocean, pool, lake, or full dunking water venue of your choice. Once I hit the beach, I head right in for a proper full body dunk, then heat up in my chair soaking up the sun’s energy, and continue back and forth until my joints are free, my range of motion is increased, my head feels clear. It is surely one of nature’s best medicines. When I’m unable to find a duo plunge pool and hot tub situation, or the weather is not ideal, I make my own with buckets at home for whatever body part I’m needing to treat. Simply plunging your feet alone is a really powerful and effective way to increase circulation and flushing throughout the entire body. And for those who are in the full swing of intensive healing journeys, full body immersions may just be too much, so plunging a chosen body part is a great way to still get the numerous benefits.
Be prepared to be totally hooked by this healing practice!
• Two containers - be sure they are large enough to allow whatever body part you are treating to be immersed completely
• 1-2 towels
• Kettle or container to heat water
• Enough ice to fill the “cold” container
• Cold compress for head or neck, if needed while submerged in hot water
• Thermometer - I don’t use one, as I go with my tolerance level, but this can be helpful for those new to this treatment
PROCESS + IMMERSION TIMES
• Fill one bucket with hot water and one with cold water and ice.
• Begin by immersing your body part in the HOT water for 3-4 minutes. The temperature should be anywhere from 100 to 111 F. The hotter you can take the better.
• Then switch to the COLD water, immersing for 1 minute. The cold bath should be anywhere from 50 to 61 F, using the ice to get it to the desired frigid temp.
• Repeat this process 5 - 8 TIMES, finishing with the cold water, (except for those suffering from Rheumatoid Arthritis, in which case you would end with hot water).
• ***Contrast baths can also be very helpful for those suffering from Diabetes, however, please be sure to work with your healthcare professional as temperatures need to be monitored.***
• ***Other contraindications include impaired sensation, local malignancies, peripheral vascular disease (PVD), bleeding and acute inflammation + injury. Acute sprains should typically wait 48 hours before using this treatment.***