Contrast showers questions

I’ve been looking at past threads here and in the archives, but can’t find answers to a couple of questions about them.

  1. When/how often? They should be used a short while after training, but can they be used at other times, e.g first thing in the morning? Are multiple contrast showers better than just one?

  2. Where- Do you target particular muscles or just the back of the head, letting it run down the body? You can’t cover the whole body all at the same time, but do you need to?

Not sure about your first question, but I’ve seen others recommend that the water be aimed at the base of the skull. I don’t know what the rationale is for this.

There is a rather poten Immune point at the base of the skull/ top of neck, contrasing this area stimulates it and helps with recovery.

Sacrum is also quite potent.

Contrast showers are generally ok at anytime. They obviously increase the circulation of the muscles and CNS, but I feel where they relax muscle tone they tend to stimulate the CNS, which is good before exercise.

The shower should be applied to the different muscle groups and the back of the head.

Richard - could you post a sample pre-exercise protocol?
For pre-exercise end with cold as usual ?

I would try 2 cycles of cold:hot, 1:3 minutes and then probably end in cold. Ending in hot may be better to aid warming up before exercise especially in places like the UK, but the cold may be more favourable for CNS stimulation. Even if ending in cold, the body feels warm again after a few minutes anyway. The shower should be rotated around the whole body and back of head for both strong muscular and CNS effects. More than 2 cycles may also be ok, but in some individuals this may lead to a decline in stimulation of the CNS.

Thanks Richard -
For my warm-up I find if I end with warm - it messes me up big time.

thank you richard…that seems like the most reasonable protocol/description.

i got another question about contrast showers and instead of starting another thread i figured search for this one and add on… well here it is…

we have stated in another thread that level of neuromuscualr/CNS (which one should i call it?) is low in the morning. So in order for it to be optimum for speedwork we should be awake for at least 4 hours.
Well my question is if we took a contrast shower would the level of activation change? so in other words would activation be optimum if we woke up and a hour later took a contrast shower?

It’s probable. Interestingly, it’s been found, with children who have a hard time waking up, that they respond better to a hot shower than a cold one. The implication might be, first thing in the morning, to go longer on the first hot cycle than you might later in the day.

X - I couldn’t dream of doing hot pre-game!!!

Heat totally wrecks me - especially for early morning games.
It HAS to be cold!!!
The heat just makes me too relaxed and tired - I find the cold a far better stimulus.

I’m surprised the heat works for you!
Don’t you feel ‘drained’ pre match?

One way to find out- I’ll try it! Following Charlie’s suggestion I’ll try the following protocol tomorrow morning and see how I get on in practice:

5-8 mins hot - 1 min Cold
3 mins hot - 1 min Cold
3 mins hot - 1 min Cold

How long should that first cycle be Charlie?

Originally posted by Charlie Francis
It’s probable. Interestingly, it’s been found, with children who have a hard time waking up, that they respond better to a hot shower than a cold one. The implication might be, first thing in the morning, to go longer on the first hot cycle than you might later in the day.

I always take a hot shower before Sunday morning football games. My wife thinks I’m crazy “you’re going to go out and get all muddy, why take a shower?” but I find that it helps get me prepared to play. I thought it was just a superstition, but perhaps the hot water provides some CNS stimulation which is much appreciated for the 8:00 am games!

I don’t do a cold cycle, it seems a bit too hard to face, especially first thing in the morning and I can’t imagine doing it in November when the weather is hardly above freezing, but perhaps I will try it during the warmer parts of the season.

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If I did an extended session of really hot or sat in a whirlpool or sauna, then that would drain me. However, I find that a normal hot shower in the morning is just enough to get me going. I think the shower splashing over me in and of itself provides some effect.

This weekend, I’ll do the normal shower but finish up with a minute of cold and see if that works better (I have a game at 8:00 am!)

Ok - good luck and let us know how it goes.
Damn 8 am ???
I know where I’ll be at 8am.