Introduction to thermotherapy

Thermotherapy induces a feeling of well-being through exposure to heat then cold. Generally speaking, when people hear the word « heat » they regard that as something pleasurable. But not so much when they hear « cold »! Interestingly, it is, in fact, « cold » that does the most good.  On your next visit, follow these steps and benefit to the max with alternating cycles of thermotherapy.

Start by taking a shower – to hydrate and rinse off your body.

1- Hot

Head for a sauna and stay there for a while, but be careful not to linger longer than the maximum recommended times – i.e. 15 minutes for a Finnish sauna (or steam room) and 30 minutes for an infrared sauna. If you start to feel unwell, exit the unit. But if not, stay inside until you begin to sweat. Should the heat feel too intense, just place a cool, wet facecloth over your mouth and nose. That will help you breathe more easily. For the rest of the session, putting the cloth around your neck or on top of your head will also bring some relief.

Once out of the sauna, rinse off under a shower to remove toxins from your skin. Allow yourself to briefly cool down.

2- Cold

After the heat, the cold will feel like a shock to your system, but remember, it is doing you a world of good! Submerge yourself in the cold bath slowly and calmly, up to the level of your chin. Note how your body reacts. It might encourage you to do a few swimming strokes and linger a little longer. Just imagine you are wading into the sea after storing up a lot of heat. The most important thing is not to allow your muscles to stiffen up. Before that happens, get out of the cold water – once again, slowly and calmly.

Once you’re out, focus on the sensations throughout your body. Don’t towel yourself off. The heat from your body will dry you quite naturally and at the same time, boost your circulation. 

Initially, your legs will continue to feel cold, but that sensation passes very quickly.

3- Relaxation

The sharp contrast between the heat and the cold stimulates your blood flow and your heart starts to beat a little faster. The relaxation period is important because it allows your metabolism to return to normal. It’s tempting to miss this step, but don’t! Your body needs time to adjust to the alternating temperatures.

You can repeat this thermotherapy cycle two or three times, but do not do more than three sessions in the same day.  

4- Hydration

When you’re sweating, you lose a lot of water, so make sure you stay well hydrated throughout the thermotherapy sessions. 

In this video, Jocelyna Dubuc explains the various stages of thermotherapy to health expert Jean-Yves Dionne. It is his first experience of plunging into Spa Eastman’s pond and although it was fringed with snow and ice, he immediately recognizes the value of this type of practise and the contribution that thermotherapy makes towards creating a state of well-being.

Another first-timer in the pond is Sarah-Lee Cloutier, one of our activity leaders. She is accompanied by massage therapist Jean-Michel Bourgeois as they discuss the benefits of the hot-cold-rest cycles of thermotherapy.