What is Hydrotherapy?
In simple terms hydrotherapy is the use of water to relieve discomfort and promote physical well-being. Like so many modern medical practices we find the origins of hydrotherapy in Greek and Roman civilizations.
How Does Hydrotherapy Work?
The principle behind hydrotherapy is based on the mechanical and thermic properties of water and its controlled application to the body.
In broad terms heat is used to quiet and soothe the body and to slow down the activity of internal organs. Cold, kinetic water is used to stimulate and invigorate, increasing internal activity within the body. If you are experiencing tense muscles or anxiety, heat is recommended in the shower or bath, whereas if you are feeling tired and stressed out, it is recommended to take a warm shower or bath followed by a short cold shower to help stimulate the body and mind.
Types of Hydrotherapy
- Cold mitten friction rub
- Hot and cold compresses
- Body wrap
- Wet sheet pack
- Salt glow
- Active Hydroptherapy
- Water Aerobics
- Colonic Irrigation
- Steam Inhalation
Water Aerobics and Active Hydrotherapy for Rehabilitation:
More often than not when we think of hydrotherapy, we think of these two types and there is a good reason for this. Water Aerobics and Active Hydrotherapy offer excellent pre and post-operative exercise solutions.
Water Aerobics utilizes floats, flippers, bats and varying speeds of movement to gradually build strength, flexibility and coordination. The buoyancy and resistance of water allows us to carry out functional movements that you need for everyday life such as walking, stair climbing and rising from a chair without the high impact exercise of the gym.
Benefits of Hydrotherapy:
1. Reduces Muscular Tension, Aches and Pains:
Water helps relieves tension in the limbs, thanks to its buoyancy supporting aching muscles and easing movement.
Great for: Joint, muscle and nerve damage, arthritis and headaches
2. Effective Muscle Recovery and Repair:
Immersion in warm or hot water raises the body temperature and increases blood flow. Increased blood flow improves oxygen and nutrient delivery to muscles, which in turn means more effective recovery of injured muscles.
Great for: Joint, muscle and nerve rejuvenation and strengthening
3. More Robust Immune System:
Hydrotherapy increases blood flow and the circulation of white blood cells around the body. This kick starts the lymphatic system and allows the body to more efficiently fight unwanted bacteria, thus helping the immune system to effectively fight off illness
Great for: Colds, stomach bugs, sore throats, ear infections and headaches
4. Promotes Detoxification:
Thermic hydrotherapy treatments such as sauna’s and steaming induce sweating. Sweating is one of the body’s primary ways of eliminating toxins and cleansing the body of the impurities that if built up, can cause both physical conditions and mental side effects.
Great for: Skin conditions, stomach problems, colds, tiredness, stress, headaches and sleep disorders
5. Relieves Symptoms of Stress:
Hydrotherapy treatment can be effectively used to help your body relax thanks to its ability to reduce blood pressure caused by stress. It may also slow down the body’s reaction to anxiety and release endorphins.
Great for: Depression, tiredness, stress, headaches and sleep disorders
There you have it, hydrotherapy in a nutshell. I bet you never knew it could be so effective for so many things? There is a ‘but’ though. Like all medical practices and PT regimes, you should always consult a medical team first. While hydrotherapy does have many proven benefits, it is important to establish whether they will be beneficial for you. As with all treatments there can be undesirable side effects, but with hydrotherapy these are rare and can be easily avoided.
So what are you waiting for? Get hydrated and remember, h20 is not just for drinking!