The use of contrast therapy dates back over 5000 years. For centuries, hot and cold temperatures have been used by humans for medical, therapeutic and recovery purposes. Contrast therapy treatment is now encouraged by celebrities such as Goop’s Gwyneth Paltrow, Lady Gaga and more recently, Harry Styles – who posted that he uses cold therapy as a way to keep his body in the best shape for back-to-back live performances on his latest ‘Love On Tour’ global tour.
I obviously had to try this for myself. Located in Grey Lynn’s Scrap Yard development Hana has been home to a wellness centre for the last 3 years. Owner of Hana, Sara Higgins had been experiencing medical issues and created Hana off the back of her own health journey.
There is no gym equipment at this Wellness centre, instead Hana is home to an array of holistic treatments. Facilities include private infrared therapy, red light pods and the contrast therapy rooms.
Over the course of 60 minutes, I alternated between 20 minutes of the infrared sauna and an ice bath. I opted for the Double Sauna and brought a friend along for support and encouragement.
I have to admit I did have visions of myself submerged in a bath full of ice cubes but Hana keeps the bath at 6 degrees celsius through their specialty baths. I am not going to tell you that the 3 minutes was comfortable, but the feeling afterwards can only be described as ‘electrifying’.
The idea of a sauna may conjure up feelings of being clammy and uncomfortable. But Sara explains infrared saunas are not quite the same;
“Rather than heating up the air around you like a traditional sauna, infrared saunas emit infrared wavelengths of light that penetrate into your tissues, heating your body up from the inside out. The heat from infrared saunas is more tolerable, allowing you to stay in for longer and there is evidence that a greater amount of toxins are eliminated with infrared saunas.”
Cold water immersion has been proven to improve circulation. When you are exposed to the cold water your blood vessels get smaller which reduces blood flow. When you remove yourself from the cold, your body has to warm itself up, so it increases blood flow to your blood vessels. I asked Sara how often contrast therapy would be necessary to see results.
“2-3 per week is a good number of sessions. For more specific support, such as detoxing for hormone health or lowering inflammation and pain, more regular sessions, even daily, may be recommended.”