What is Hydrotherapy?
Hydrotherapy is what people have used for centuries to support the healing process and encourage overall well-being. It is a broad term that refers to all forms of treatment using water, including ice for sore muscles, sitz baths for postpartum care, and steam therapy for congestion. What are the different forms of hydrotherapy and how can they benefit the human body?
Hydrotherapy is healing through the external application of water, but another important element is temperature. Hot water increases circulation, improves immune response, and encourages the removal of toxins from the body. It is also soothing to the nervous system. Cold is ideal for reducing inflammation and even lowering fevers. Using both hot and cold water therapy has an even more marked effect on the body, stimulating organs, increasing blood and lymphatic circulation, improving the flow of oxygen and nutrients through the body, and relieving the body of harmful toxins and microbes. All of this has the end result of speeding the healing process and supporting wellness.
There are some hydrotherapy techniques that should be done under the supervision of a licensed therapist or other health care professional. These include hyperthermia, to stimulate a fever, a whirlpool bath to treat sports injuries, and neutral baths to calm nervousness, relieve joint pain, and to detoxify.
Methods that can be used at home include:
- Cold packs can be applied to minor muscle injuries and arthritis flares to bring relief
- Hot packs can be applied to muscle and abdominal cramps
- Sitz baths can be used to treat urinary tract infections, inflamed prostate, and for postpartum healing
- Steam inhalation can be used for respiratory tract congestion
- Hot baths and showers can be used to relieve stress and tension and to improve circulation
- Saunas and steam baths are great for detoxification, anxiety, and muscle soreness
Talk to your doctor before using hydrotherapy at home, especially if you are pregnant, have heart problems, or have any type of medical
condition. After using any type of hot water therapy, be sure to drink plenty of water to replenish fluids. While this form of therapy is a simple method for healing, pain relief, and improving the immune response, leave the extreme techniques for the professionals and enjoy the benefits of simple, yet effective hydrotherapy techniques at home.
What is hydrotherapy but a tool for well-being? Whether you are alternating hot and cold packs to nurse a sports injury, using a sauna to detox, or using a hot and cold hydrotherapy shower to energize the body, it is all based on the amazing response that the human body has to water.
Southwest Naturopathic Medical Center https://www.scnm.edu/hydrotherapy.html
Page, Linda. “Healthy Healing: A Guide to Self-Healing for Everyone, 11th Edition” (Traditional Wisdom, 2003).
Balch, Phyllis A. “Prescription for Nutritional Healing.” Fourth Edition (Penguin Books, 2006).
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photo by Thomas (CC/flickr) https://www.flickr.com/photos/antoniothomas/5111497944/
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