How an icy blast can do you good!
Author: Doreen Corbey
August 13 2009
As humans we seem instinctively to gravitate towards warmth and heat: we like warm jets in Jacuzzis, steam rooms, saunas, central heating. In the UK & USA, we’re just not very good at putting our bodies through feeling cold, and when we hear of people subjecting themselves to early morning swims in the freezing sea, it sends a shiver down our spines!
In continental Europe however, they are more advanced in having recognised the benefits of cold. Imagine tearing yourself from a warm bath then leaping into an ice cold plunge pool. It’s invigorating – you take deep breaths, it’s oxygenating! You leave the cold pool feeling alive! This is not some form of torture but a boost to the immune system and a strengthening treatment.
In the salon – LaStone therapy
In LaStone therapy, which I practise, I use alternating heated and chilled stones; hot stones at 50ºC+ and marble stones from the fridge (or freezer depending on the strength of the client). Alternating these temperatures has a wonderful rejuvenating effect on the body and, even if it seems scary at first, it’s extremely relaxing, without leaving you lethargic or listless at the end. Think of a hot sauna and how you soon long for a cool breeze, marble floor on your feet, anything but the heat.
The cold stones have the effect of initially speeding up breathing and moving blood from the surface of the skin, but once the body has become used to the temperature, the muscles relax and blood returns to the skin leaving it glowing. This treatment is great for removing toxins from the body, especially the draining sequence of a facial massage with the marble stones.
There are, of course, cold water treatments you can try for yourself at home – cold showers are not just for Eastern European athletes! If you don’t have a shower, or removable shower head, a bowl of water will do.
Make sure you’ve bathed/showered with hot water and that your body is warm. Then, taking the shower head, turn the water to cold and direct it at one foot and up the front of that leg til you reach the hip. Then start again at the foot and direct the water up the other side of the leg. Repeat on the other leg. When you’re feeling stronger, continue the jet of water up the whole front of the body and lastly the back. For the first few goes it’s fine to go just go as far as the tops of your legs.
The usual rule of alternating temperature treatments is that you generally start warming the body, then chilling it and repeat this twice more. However, this is not always feasible and, I think uses too much water, so I generally just start off with hot and finish with a cold rinse.
Still not persuaded?
If the idea of getting cold still holds no allure, ask yourself why athletes and dancers are advised to immerse their limbs in buckets of knee- deep ice cold water. Answer – it prevents injury and reduces swelling even before it’s apparent. After every treatment I give, especially after massage, I immerse my hands and arms in cold water – it feels like ice-cream on a hot day. My cold rinse at the end of every shower leaves me feeling alive and zinging.
Give some cold water treatment a try – your body will thank you for it!
About the Author
Doreen has had a passion for massage since she was 15 years old. She still has that passion, and offers massage, specialist facials and other beauty treatments in her home-based salon in Surrey. With any energy left over she will devour all the beauty pages of all the magazines she can lay her hands on!
Doreen’s homepage: Bellessence