Hydrotherapy is aquatic or water therapy. People suffering from problems such as:
......benefit greatly from carefully crafted exercise therapy sessions performed in specially designed hydrotherapy pools. This type of therapy is also helpful for people recovering from various types of orthopedic surgery and knee or hip replacement. In this article, we discuss the benefits of hydrotherapy and provide information and tips to help you reap those benefits. Read on to learn more.
How is Hydrotherapy Different from Swimming?
Swimming and water aerobics are great forms of exercise in their own right. Both are suitable for people who want to exercise to lose weight and attain or maintain good, overall fitness.
Hydrotherapy is especially suited for people recovering from illness, injury or surgery. It is not as strenuous and is focused on performing specific, controlled movements for the purpose of alleviating pain and promoting healing.
Hydrotherapy is performed in a very warm pool that is specially designed for safety and accessibility. Exercises are performed in varying depths of water, and specialized equipment is provided.
How Does Hydrotherapy Help With Healing And Pain Relief?
It has long been known that water has healing properties. There are a number of time-honored treatments that are included in the definition of hydrotherapy. In addition to specially designed exercise pools, this type of therapy may also involve use of:
Treatment may also involve the use of water features and jets to provide massage. Warm water treatments stimulate the lymphatic system and help flush out toxins. Cold therapies stimulate the circulatory system and improve circulation.
What are the Specific Benefits of Hydrotherapy?
- 1Relief from muscle tension: Being in water provides a feeling of weightlessness that automatically soothes aching muscles and relieves tension.
- 2 Reduction of aches and pains: Soaking in warm water helps alleviate muscle spasms caused by pain. A warm soak also expands blood vessels and improves circulation. Good circulation carries away lactic acid associated with achy muscles.
- 3 Helps muscle and joint injuries heal: Increased blood flow is essential to quick healing of injuries of all sorts.
- 4 Immune system booster: Increased blood flow also means an increase in the production and circulation of white blood cells. This supports the free flow of the immune system fluid known as lymph. As lymph circulates through your body, it collects and disposes of waste materials. When the toxins in your blood are reduced, your immune system is strengthened.
- 5Supports detoxification: Use of a sauna or steam room stimulates sweating, which is one of the main ways the body eliminates toxins.
- 6Reduction of swelling and inflammation: Water exerts gentle hydrostatic pressure on your entire body. This can help reduce swelling and inflammation in arthritic joints or at areas surrounding injuries or surgery sites.
- 7Stress relief: Soaking in a warm or hot tub is a great way to reduce your blood pressure. A hot soak also releases endorphins, which counter pain, anxiety and stress.
- 8Strength improvement: In addition to providing support and a sensation of weightlessness, water also provides consistent, overall resistance as you exercise. Physical therapists can design exercise programs targeting muscle weakness and taking advantage of the gentle resistance of water. As you gain strength, more resistance can be added with floats and/or resistance bands.
- 9Improved flexibility: Warm water and gentle motion help relax tight muscles allowing you to exercise with greater range of motion.
- 10 Balance improvement: Because water is constantly in motion, you get an excellent and constant core muscle workout as you work on focused and targeted rehabilitation and strengthening exercises. Constant adjustments help you improve your balance, even on land!
- 11Safety: Water supports you, so you are less likely to fall while you exercise. Improvements in strength and balance you gain with a hydrotherapy workout help reduce risk of falls and injuries in everyday life.
- 12Low/No impact exercise: For people with joint pain, the support provided by water allows greater participation in a wider variety of exercises. Many people with arthritis who are not able to exercise on land can get a good workout with the support of water.
- 13 Improved outlook: A satisfying water workout helps your body release several feel-good hormones that boost your spirits, increase your energy level and relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety.
- 14Better overall fitness: In addition to improving targeted areas, hydrotherapy helps improve your overall health. Better circulation, reduced stress levels, stronger muscles, greater flexibility and better balance benefit your whole body and your overall experience of life.
Where Can You Get Hydrotherapy?
For the best and most professional hydrotherapy sessions, you must seek out the services of a physical therapist who has a specially built hydrotherapy pool and equipment. If you are recovering from an injury or surgery, or if you need relief from arthritis pain, or if you need physical therapy to deal with a disability, find a medically supervised exercise program offering a safely designed hydrotherapy pool with a safe, shallow ramp, a lift or hoist and specialized equipment.
If you are interested in hydrotherapy for stress relief or simply rest and recreation, many luxury hotels and resorts offer nice spa services, hydrotherapy suites and other attractive and enjoyable ways to reap the benefits of this effective form of therapy.
Can You Do Hydrotherapy At Home?
While you cannot enjoy all the benefits of formal hydrotherapy in your hot tub or shower, there are some ways to tweak your daily ablutions to reap a few of the benefits of this enjoyable, effective therapy.
Try Contrast Therapy
Soaking in a hot bath is a great way to rest, relax, rejuvenate, loosen stiff muscles and improve circulation. Reap even more benefits by finishing up a 20 minute hot or very warm bath with a cool bath or shower.
The cool part of your hydrotherapy should last only a couple of minutes. The cold water stimulates muscle contraction, which helps support healthy immune function. The drop in temperature is invigorating and can help calm your pulse after a hot soak.
For even greater results, repeat the hot/cold contrast several times. This stimulates circulation, helps flush toxins from your system and can firm your skin.
What if You Don’t Have a Tub?
You can also enjoy shower hydrotherapy. Here's how:
Before your shower, brush your body, arms and legs with a medium bristle brush to stimulate good circulation. This should feel good. If it hurts, get a softer brush and/or lighten your touch.
Take a hot shower - again, this should not hurt. The water should be as hot as you like it, not as hot as you can stand it. Once you are done with your ablutions, switch to cool/cold water for 2-5 minutes.
Rinse your whole body, your face and your hair. This contrast therapy stimulates circulation, improves your skin tone and leaves your hair smoother and shinier!
6 DIY Hydrotherapy Tips
- 1If you are able to have your own hot tub, install a shower nearby so that you can do contrast therapy easily. Soak in the hot tub for 15 minutes and then take a cool shower for 2 to 5 minutes. Repeat two or three times for best results.
- 2If you belong to a gym that has a hot tub and/or steam bath, alternate between these and the pool or shower.
- 3DIY hydrotherapy is even more relaxing, enjoyable and effective with the addition of essential oils for aromatherapy and props such as candles, soft music and after bath oils for the sheer pleasure of it.
- 4If you are nursing an injury, stiff joints or sore muscles, try adding Epsom salts to your bath for increased hydrostatic pressure. This helps relieve inflammation and reduce swelling.
- 5 For aromatherapy, run an essential oil diffuser in the bathroom while you take your shower.
- 6Try contrast hydrotherapy for tired, achy feet. A nice hot foot soak followed by a cold plunge and massage with peppermint lotion relieves pain and reduces swelling.
Add a Little Hydrotherapy to Every Day
The use of hydrotherapy as a medical treatment, a recreational pursuit or a way of relaxing and rejuvenating at home is a great way to improve your strength, health and well-being. Refer to the information presented here to successfully use this healthy, healing therapy as you pursue your health and wellness goals.