Contrast baths enable the therapist to apply treatments at differentiated temperatures. In this way reactions of the cardiovascular system are stimulated in case of disturbed blood circulation, e.i. according to Kneipp.
The contrast treatments start with warm water and end with cold. The warm bath is usually applied for a longer period (sometimes 10 times longer) than the cold bath. The stimulation of tissue is more intensive when the number of cycles is increased. In most cases the water temperature differential will lie between 12 and 20 ºC. The warm water temperature will be between 36 and 38 ºC, and the cold water temperature will lie between 16 and 26 ºC. Both compartments of the contrast bath are fitted with so-called spritz nozzles. Narrow water jets will give a mild mechanical stimulation (depending on the available water pressure).
The following treatments are available:
• Application of small water jets directly on the extremities
• Application of small water jets under water
• As a contrast bath with differentiated water temperatures
Contrast baths for the legs
These baths are used stimulation of the blood flow in the lower extremities that cause a strong hyperaemia. It is used for functional problems without actual arterial pathology, such as chronic cold feet, but also hyper tension and sleeping disorders. In some cases with arterial diseases, paradoxical reactions can occur if a patient has a tendency for vasoconstriction instead of vasodilatation. These diseases are a contra indication for the application of contrast baths.
Contrast baths for the arms
The application of these baths increases the blood circulation in the arms. The baths are used to treat clients with functional problems, such chronic cold hands or reflex sympathetic dystrophy (Südeck syndrome or complex regional pain syndrome) in not-acute phase. Contra indications are tendencies for vascular spasms and angina pectoris, because of the random influences on heart circulation.