What is it? Episode 4: Hydrotherapy

Hydrotherapy

Hydrotherapy is an alternative medicine that involves the use of water for pain relief and treatment. It has proved very effective due to gravity being counteracted by buoyancy and the physical properties of water such as a temperature and pressure to encourage stimulation in the blood flow around the body. This method of medicine has been around for hundreds of years and was practiced by the Ancient Greeks and Romans.

Hydrotherapy utilizes a wide range of methods including water jets, underwater massage, mineral baths, plunge pools and Jacuzzi. Paired with the delivery of heat and cold to the body, this provides a therapeutic benefit.

The body’s reaction to the application of hot and cold and pressure from the water produces stimulation to the nervous system which then influences the immune system, encouraging the blood flow and reducing the body’s sensitivity to pain. The increase in blood flow also improves circulation and digestion is improved due to the increase in metabolic rate, digestion activity and elimination of waste in the body.

Applying heat to the body will soothe and calm down the activity of internal organs. Hot water is used to aid muscle relaxation and sweating making it able to treat arthritis, poor circulation and sore muscles. Application of cold temperatures to the body will stimulate and invigorate the activity of internal organs. Cold water can be used to stimulate the blood flow in the skin and underlying muscles. If you are experiencing muscle pain it is recommended to take a warm shower and then a short cold shower to help stimulate the mind and body.

There are many benefits of Hydrotherapy and it is most commonly used for rehabilitation after injuries or strokes. Being submerged in water relieves the effect of gravity and gives a feeling of weightlessness alleviating any pressure. Movement of water also gently kneads the body giving a massage like feeling which stimulates the touch receptors on the skin, relaxing tight muscles and increasing blood flow throughout the body. It can also increase muscle strength, endurance and long lasting improvements in joint mobility due to the greater resistance in water.

Hydrotherapy has also been used since ancient times for a way to balance the mind. It is believed that it is designed to take advantages of the natural body reaction to hot and cold temperatures in order to make the body stronger. Changes in body temperature is said to help the brain function. Warm water will decrease the stress hormones and help to balance serotonin levels. Cold water can relive inflammation in the body and brain which can cause depression but it will also help to release and produce feel good molecules that give a sense of well-being and calm. Those that suffer from anxiety are recommended to start with a hot shower and slowly reduce the temperature, targeting the scalp, neck and spine with the shower pressure while taking deep breaths.

Humans used to spend a lot more time outside, where we weren’t able to control the temperatures we were exposed to. This is where the naturopathy roots come from and how Hydrotherapy was developed.

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