What Is Contrast Bath Therapy? Benefits, And Side Effects

A lady taking a contrast bath

Contrast bath therapy is a thermal treatment commonly used for athletics to recover fast or improve posttraining recovery.

In this contrast bath therapy (CBT), or water therapy the person is repeatedly pressed into the water several times.

Contrast bath involves hot and cold water therapy, it is mostly offered for athletes who need more recovery after the game.

So today’s article is based on CBT, how does it work? health effects, and move on.

How Does contrast bath therapy work?

CBT is a type of therapy, where the body is immersed in hot water (not boiling water) after that the body is immediately immersed in cold water (1).

It is commonly offered to the sports community, like athletes, footballers, etc which works as a therapy (2).

Research has shown that this intermittent therapy induces a vascular pumping effect (3) which leads to:

  • Increase blood flow
  • improve healing
  • chances tissue waste-product transportation that reduces edema
  • improves limb function
  • promotes quicker recovery

NOTE: It suggests that most of the benefits of CBT come from the hydrostatic pressure from the water, not the variations in temperature (4).

A lady taking a contrast bath
Contrast Bath Therapy is An Excellent Way To Recover Body Fast

Cold water Vs Hot water

Cold water bathHot water bath
Coldwater helps our muscles to recover faster.Hot water helps in relaxing our muscles and eliminating fatigue.
Increase your weight loss, by burning caloriesWhen rising water temp to 98.6 degrees, metabolism increases by 40%.
Stimulates the immune system, but not too much cold water.Relieves the nasal discomfort (congestion)
Lock the moisture in your hairOpen scalp pores, which weakens the hair roots, and increases hair fall.
Tightens the skinOpen pores and cleanse the skin
Increase AlertnessReduce stress, and anxiety, also headache
It’s believed to be more effective in increasing blood circulation than simply placing the limb in a hot water.Warm water improves digestion, by removing waste, especially try in the morning.


There are several benefits of contrast bath therapy which include:

Reduce fatigue

It is also considered one of the most popular ways after exercise, to lower the rating of fatigue (5).

Meta-analysis research found that CWB helps sports community players to recover from fatigue 24-48 hours after the game (6)

Research, results showed that reduced fatigue after the training sessions was the principal effect of cold water immersion (CWI).

Check Out – Potential Reasons For Fatigue And Ways To Treat It

Recover fast

It can also significantly improve muscle recovery after exercise by reducing the levels of blood lactate concentration.

Cold exposure increases opioid tone and metabolic rate, resulting, in fatigue by reducing muscle pain and accelerating the recovery of fatigued muscle (7).

It indicates CWT for 6 min assisted acute recovery from high-intensity running (8).

There was no effect on the CWT dose-response runner’s performance during the period (9).

Muscle damage or soreness

Contrast baths promote recovery and reduce muscle damage and the pain allied with delayed-onset muscle soreness (10)

Athletic may also cause exercise-induced muscle damage (EIMD), which may lead to delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) (11).

Two studies indicated that warm water immersion was allied with lower levels of muscle damage at 24, 48, and 72 hours time duration (12).

Reduces edema

 It may also improve the transport of waste products (solving edema) (13).

CWT soothes symptoms such as heaviness in limbs, edema, muscular strain, loss of appetite, and constipation (14).

Other benefits of Contrast bath

There are many other common conditions that have been reported to benefit from CB treatment (15) which include:

  • Treat hand, wrist, elbow, forearm, foot, ankle, lower leg, etc
  • may treat arthritis
  • diabetes
  • carpal tunnel syndrome
  • soft tissue trauma

Are there any Adverse effects of CBT

The report showed no adverse effects and no exacerbation of the disease was reported in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

Many studies and research, conclusions say that there is no adverse effect of CBT on health (16)

However, its risk may increases if it is not done properly like:

  • Too or too cold water temperature can damage your skin
  • It may cause heart arrhythmia

This therapy is not safe for all or every condition, so make sure to talk to your doctor, before jumping into it, especially if have health issues that include:

In addition, there is no evidence of shown adverse effects on fetuses of women from laboring in normal water or water birth.


Evidence suggests that CWT is an effective way to recover the body or rest after exercise.

Some studies have shown that spending time in a warm room before the procedure increases blood flow, compared to immersion in hot water alone.

It is an accessible, safe, non-invasive, simple, and inexpensive modality with a long history in musculoskeletal therapy (17).

Research has shown that there is no significant effect shown of doing this, again and again (18).

There is limited evidence are available – contrast baths improved superficial blood flow and skin temperature, but more research are still needed (19).

How is It Done properly or by practitioners?

This procedure is repeated several times, alternating hot and cold, this session lasts for 30 minutes.

Also, Contrast baths carry no risk when performed correctly or by professional practitioners.

People who are most involved in this therapy are athletic or sports communities.

In this, targeting one part of the players to the whole body is involved by immersing in cold and hot water.

But how is it done at home properly here are ways to do this include:

  • Take too container or tub (one of cold water and hot water)
  • then insert your injured or affected part of your body into one water, change after 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Immediately follow with a 1-minute dip in cold water
  • Repeat this process for about 20 to 30 minutes, ending with cold water.

If we talk about water temperature – it should be between 10 to 15°C (cold water), and (35-45°C) for hot water (20).


Contrast Bath Therapy is one of the best ways to recover fast from injury, fatigue, muscle soreness, etc.

CBT is commonly offered to the sports community, like athletes, footballers, and gym people to recover fast.

This also increases blood flow, improves healing, reduces edema, improves limb function, promotes quicker recovery, etc.


Hello, I'm Sahil bisht, I am a Mechanical engineer, As well as, aspiring blogger with an obsession for health. This blog delicate to people who want to learn in health.

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