Great Guide to Healing Hydrotherapy

If you like water try Healing Hydrotherapy

Hydrotherapy uses water to restore, revitalize and also maintain health. Today there are dozens of treatment and methods applying hydrotherapy, including baths, whirlpools, saunas,  jacuzzis, steam baths, foot baths, sitz baths, and the simple application of cold and hot water compresses. Douches, wraps, and packs are considered hydrotherapy.

Both recuperative and healing properties of hydrotherapy exploits the body’s reaction to water and hot and cold stimuli.  Hydrotherapy is based on mechanical and/or thermal effects. To the protracted application of heat or cool and pressure exerted by the water. Water gives the body a particular healing sensation. The body is relieved from the constant pull of gravity.

Water has a hydrostatic effect. It has a massage-like feeling as the water gently kneads the body. Water in motion stimulates touch receptors on the skin, boosting blood circulation and releasing tight muscles. Throughout the body nerves carry impulses felt both at the skin and deeper into the body, where they are instrumental in healing. Stimulating relaxation and the immune system, invigorating blood flow,  the circulation,  encouraging respiration and digestion, influencing stress hormones, and lessening pain sensitivity.

woman sunset ocean
Enjoying the Pacific ocean’s healing negative ions

Historically, hydro and hydrothermal therapy were traditional methods of treatment. Used to treat disease and injury by countless cultures, such as ancient Iceland, Rome, China, and Japan. The ancient Greeks and Romans took therapeutic baths. Water is an important healing factor in both traditional Chinese and Native American healing systems, among others.

Water therapy has been around for centuries.  A 19th-century Bavarian monk, Father Sebastian Kneipp, is named the modern father of hydrotherapy. Kneipp firmly believed that disease could be cured by using water to eliminate waste from the body. Very popular in Europe and Asia, people “take the waters” at hot and mineral springs. In North America, naturopathic doctors often recommend it.

Generally, heat quiets and soothes the body, slowing down the activity of internal organs. Cold, in contrast, stimulates and invigorates, increasing internal activity. Today cold water is used because it is stimulating and causes superficial blood vessels to constrict, shunting the blood to internal organs. Whereas hot water causes blood vessels to dilate and removes wastes from body tissues. Alternating hot and cold water improves elimination, decreases inflammation, and stimulates circulation.

When experiencing tense muscles and anxiety from stress, a hot shower or bath is in order. Or if tired and stressed out, try taking a warm shower or bath followed by a short, invigorating cold shower to help stimulate both body and mind. Submerging in a bath, a pool, or a whirlpool, one experiences a kind of weightlessness. Make a simple change in a morning routine by adding hydrotherapy for better knees or other aching body parts!

Hydrotherapy, often given at health spas or recommended as home self-care treatments, include:

  • Sauna – Dry heat may be followed by cold water as in Nordic Countries.
  • Steam bath or Turkish bath – requires a room with the ability to make steam.
  • Warm water baths – Soak in warm water for up to 30 minutes, depending on the particular condition and heart strength. Also depending on preference and condition; Epsom salts, mineral mud, aromatherapy oils, ginger, moor mud, and dead sea salts may be added.
  • Sitz bath – There are 2 adjacent tubs of water, one hot and one cold. You sit in one tub with your feet in the other tub, and then alternate. Sitz baths are recommended for hemorrhoids, PMS and menstrual problems, cystitis, polyps.
  • Humidifiers put moisture back into the air creating benefits – better sleep, skin, and faster healing times.
  • Compresses – Towels are soaked in hot and/or cold water.
  • Wraps – Cold wet flannel sheets are used to cover a person lying down. The person is then covered with dry towels and then blankets. The body warms up in response and dries to wet sheets. This is used for colds, bronchitis, skin disorders, infection, and muscle pain.
  • Wet sock treatment – Used for a sore throat, ear infections, headaches, migraines, nasal congestion, upper respiratory infections, coughs, bronchitis, and sinus infections.
  • Hot fomentation – For treatment of acute conditions such as chest colds and coughs. It seems to relieve symptoms but also decrease the length of the illness.

    finnish-sauna
    Finnish Sauna

The decision to use one treatment rather than the other is guided by personal preference and availability.

Sauna and Steam Baths are popular and ancient forms of Hydrotherapy

Saunas and steam baths are similar in effect. In a sauna, the heat acts quickly to eliminate toxins through the skin. The moist air of a steam bath effect on the respiratory system. Both are deeply relaxing and are a great way to let go of stress.

A sauna is an eliminative procedure; it stimulates blood flow, increases the heart rate, has an immune-modulating effect, promotes hormone production, encourages mucosal secretions in the respiratory system, opens the airways, reduces resistance to respiration, regulates the vegetative system, relaxes, and can improve mental outlook. Often, in Nordic countries, children start to take saunas at two or three years of age.

They are used for health promotion, as a way of treating pain caused by pulled muscles,  “toning-up,” chronic rheumatoid arthritis, bronchial asthma, unstable hypertension, disturbed blood circulation.

Healing Empowerment
Healing Empowerment In Yellowstone Lake

Use caution:  Do not spend more than 15 to 20 minutes at a time in a sauna. Wipe your face frequently with a cold cloth to avoid overheating. Saunas should not be taken by persons with acute rheumatoid arthritis, acute infection, active tuberculosis, sexually transmitted diseases, acute mental disorder, inflammation of an inner organ or blood vessels, significant vascular changes in the brain or heart, circulatory problems or acute cancer.

At the University of Minnesota, a study noted 85% of the participants preferred a whirlpool bath to a still bath. Only the  whirlpool was effective in reducing the participants’ reactivity to stress.  Both still and whirlpool baths were effective in reducing anxiety. Unfortunately, scientific support for the benefits of hydrotherapy is limited. There simply have not been enough studies conducted on the subject.

 

Scientific Evidence-Based Effects of Hydrotherapy on Various Systems of the Body

Medicinal Benefits of Hydrotherapy

Hydrotherapy Research

Therapeutic benefit of balneotherapy and hydrotherapy in the management of fibromyalgia syndrome

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