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Temperature and Contrast Therapies

An effective and affordable home therapy to relieve congested tissues and speed healing is alternate applications of hot and cold. Depending on the area being treated this can be achieved with hot and cold packs or basins of hot and cold water. For back, arms, legs, neck and shoulders use a heating pad and ice packs. Use the re-freezable soft gel ice packs and have at least 2 frozen packs on hand. For hands and feet use basins of hot and cold water and have additional hot water and ice cubes nearby.

Start with the heat application. Do this for 2-3 minutes. Use the hottest temperature you can tolerate, without unnecessary discomfort. Next, use cold for the same amount of time. The cold should be the coldest you can tolerate. If the cold is too uncomfortable, do at least ½ the amount time you did the hot. Subsequent applications should use a fresh ice pack, or for hot and cold water, water freshened with the addition of either hot or cold water to bring the temperature to the maximum tolerable.

Each application of hot and cold is a cycle. It is more effective to employ more cycles of brief duration than a few cycles of longer duration. So, 6 cycles of equal time for hot and cold will take about 30 minutes. Here is what contrast therapy looks like:

  • Hot 2.5 minutes then Cold 2.5 minutes (1st cycle)

  • Hot 2.5 minutes then Cold 2.5 minutes (2nd cycle)

  • Hot 2.5 minutes then Cold 2.5 minutes (3rd cycle)

  • Hot 2.5 minutes then Cold 2.5 minutes (4th cycle)

  • Hot 2.5 minutes then Cold 2.5 minutes (5th cycle)

  • Hot 2.5 minutes then Cold 2.5 minutes (6th cycle)

Depending on which area you are treating you can usually do this while you watch TV or read, so you can incorporate this into an activity you already enjoy. We all have enough to do, so this avoids adding another separate activity that requires further time commitment.

This technique is a powerful method of maximizing the benefits of both heat and cold applications through their alternate use. Hot applications increase the flow of fresh, oxygenated blood to tissues and encourage more venous and lymphatic flow to carry out toxic waste products and debris. Cold will drive the body blood and energy into the core, nourishing internal organs and the nervous system. The overall effect is energizing and recharges deficient energies. When heat is followed by the application of cold, pain and swelling are decreased and metabolism is limited, reducing the buildup of waste products. This use of contrast applications increases the local blood flow by up to 100%.

When these applications are repeated over several alternate cycles: hot/cold, hot/cold, etc. the client experiences relief of pain and rapid healing. This powerful contrast effect is known as the circulatory whip, or vascular flush. With each cycle, heat application draws greater volumes of blood to the surface increasing oxygen and nutrients; the following cold application pushes blood and fluids deeper into tissues, increasing the flush of metabolic waste and pain reduction.

Contrast applications have a powerful effect on the energy system as well. As the energy moves alternately from core to the surface, then to the core again, a dynamic energy cycling occurs, similar to creating an ever-increasing electromagnetic field. Greater concentrations of energy sent to the core of the body revitalize organs and the nervous system, as well as improving motor function. As energy flows more fully to the surface, sensitivity increases and perception heightens. Resistances in the energy flow are cleared, improving function and communication throughout the system on a cellular level. The result is that the client experiences heightened energy and sensitivity, concurrent with increased relaxation.

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