The lowdown on Hot/Cold Hydrotherapy

My friend Abby and I were on a week-long camping trip in California. We parked her van outside a hot springs our first night. In the light of the morning sun, we wandered down a steady hill in the forest to the hot springs.

A slow-moving waterfall filled the warm basin held together by stones, while a river sped and swerved just on the other side of the rocks. The process was clear: submerge in the warmth then dip in the frozen river. Submerge again, and repeat.

Back at the car, we started pondering about our recent experience. What about hot and cold hydrotherapy makes the body and mind so relaxed? More often than not, we will see naturally occurring hot springs placed next to a frozen river or lake. Is this coincidence or is nature introducing us to benefits only achieved with the committed back and forth through hot to cold? Below I break down the benefits of this age old tradition, and how you can easily incorporate it into your daily life.

What are the health benefits of hot hydrotherapy?

Submerging in heat dilates the blood vessels and increases blood flow and the flow of nutrients to the skin and muscles.

What are the health benefits of cold hydrotherapy?

When you dip your body in cold water, the blood vessels constrict, causing the pores to close firmly, shutting the heat in and drawing the nutrients into the cells. The act of submerging in the striking cold also kills the weaker cells, strengthening the stronger cells because they then can obtain all of the body’s nutrients.

What are the benefits of hot/cold hydrotherapy?

  1. Hot/cold hydrotherapy is great for mental clarity and relaxation, as well as providing therapeutic benefits for injuries.
  1. This practice encourages the release of endorphins (and endorphins make you happy!).
  2. Hot/cold hydrotherapy is not just an experience for our senses, but affects us at a physiological level.
  3. This practice aids in detoxification and activating the lymphatic system – it’s also a great way to regulate the body’s temperature.

Is this therapy new?

According to studies, hydrotherapy is one of the basic methods of treatment widely used in the system of natural medicine. It goes by many names, such as water therapy, aquatic therapy, pool therapy, and balneotherapy.

It began thousands of years ago as a Finnish tradition and is quickly making its way into modern spas (hello Scandinave), community centres and other therapeutic establishments.

How to integrate into your life:

You can access the benefits of this practice in the simplest (and free of cost!) way by using your shower. Turn the heat up and enjoy the steam, then blast cold on your skin and feel the benefits.

There are also spas that provide these benefits, some which also encourage the necessary detox of technology and sound as well as the therapeutic benefits of hot/cold. One of my favourites is the Scandinave Spa in Mt. Tremblant, QC and Whistler, BC. This spa provides the ability to fully disconnect and focus in on the body’s journey through the senses.

Let’s also not discredit nature’s most natural spa: the hot springs. The next time you find yourself at the natural hot springs or a frozen river – fear not! Many incredible benefits await, so jump on in! (Then thank me later).

xo Jessie

Image by: @winnieharlow


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Jessie Smith | B.A., CNP, RYT Jessie is a certified nutrition practitioner with a passion for helping clients improve their lives by changing how they eat. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Dalhousie University and a diploma of holistic nutrition from Institute of Holistic Nutrition in Toronto. She co-leads retreats on Bowen Island and teaches yoga and fitness in North Vancouver. Her focus is on alignment and the equally important aspects of flexibility and strength. She also leads the community yoga class at Patagonia in Kitsilano, Vancouver. As an active hiker, snowboarder and rock climber, Jessie understand the challenges of incorporating healthy eating and exercise into a busy schedule. She believe in a healthy lifestyle that is balanced with nourishment for body, mind and soul. Jessie: "everyone has their own challenges and I work hard with the client to assess their needs and wants and how to make it fit seamlessly into their daily routine." Jessie's private practice is Jessie Arielle Wellness and she offers private yoga and nutrition consultations. You can connect with her on her website, or through Facebook and Instagram. Get in touch by sending her an email!