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Massage and Hydrotherapy
Both massage and hydrotherapy are popular complementary medicine techniques, providing a unique set of benefits for both the mind and body. Massage therapy involves a variety of stroking, kneading and pressure techniques on the body with the goal of improving well-being and the body's ability to heal. While there are several different types of massage, each with its own specific benefits, in general this therapeutic form of healing is good for:
- Pain relief
- Releasing toxins
- Circulatory system health
- Respiratory problems
- Poor posture
Hydrotherapy involves the use of water, steam and ice for healing. Specific methods involving hot and cold water improve circulation, relieve pain and fatigue, speed healing and promote detoxification. Heating compresses, steam therapy, Epsom salt baths, aromatherapy baths, sitz baths and showers are all examples of hydrotherapy. The effect on the body of both natural therapies is very similar, stimulating, cleansing and soothing.
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Using hydrotherapy in conjunction with massage therapy is a way to combine the benefits of both healing methods for a more dynamic therapeutic experience. There are many alternative medicine practitioners who have integrated both therapies in their healing practice, offering a range of services to better suite the needs of each individual.
Integrating massage with water therapy, a client can have a hydrotherapy treatment before or after a massage, thereby enhancing the effect of the massage. The result is a greater improvement of circulation, a very thorough release of toxins and an incredibly soothing impact on sore, tight muscles and an anxious, tense mine. Hydrotherapy essentially makes massage therapy more effective.
Combining both methods also allows for a wider range of possible techniques to use for healing. For example, some clients may be too sensitive to the hand movements of a massage. In this case a steam bath can provide a more gentle alternative. Also, with some conditions the temperature shifts of hydrotherapy are not safe. Using both massage and a more mild hydrotherapy technique, such as a warm foot bath may be ideal.
Both hydrotherapy and massage therapy are also well-suited to be used with aromatherapy. Essential oils may be added to water or massage oils, or simply infused into the air during treatment for a more relaxing, therapeutic effect. Hot water and steam serve to open pores allowing for better absorption of the essential oils. The increase in blood flow of massage also improves the healing effect of aromatherapy.
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Who Can Benefit?
Anyone can benefit from using hydrotherapy in conjunction with massage therapy if both treatments are approved by a physician (high blood pressure, heart disease, advanced kidney or liver disease, open wounds, fevers, acute inflammation and pregnancy may all be reasons to avoid hydrotherapy). The combination provides a more dynamic and effective healing experience. It is important to talk to both your doctor and your massage therapist about your state of health.
For the relief of stress and tension, to ease chronic pain, to speed the healing process of sports injuries or simply to rejuvenate and improve well-being, consider visiting a healing clinic that offers a combination of the simple, yet powerful healing power of touch and water.
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Balch, Phyllis A. "Prescription for Nutritional Healing." Fourth Edition (Penguin Books, 2006).
Page, Linda. "Healthy Healing: A Guide to Self-Healing for Everyone, 11th Edition" (Traditional Wisdom, 2003).
The Neighbourhood Clinic, http://www.theneighbourhoodclinic.com/massage-hydrotherapy.htm
The Park Attwood Clinic, http://www.theneighbourhoodclinic.com/massage-hydrotherapy.htm
photo of hydrotherapy room by Pan Pacific
photo of massage by Meg Colombo
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