March 10, 2022
When you hear the word “hydrotherapy,” you may picture professional athletes recovering from their latest performance in an ice bath or a hot tub. While these two treatments are examples of hydrotherapy, the practice itself is much broader; hydrotherapy is any use of water for healing or health benefit.
Water has many properties that make it helpful for treating diseases and maintaining health, such as increasing blood flow, taking pressure off the body, promoting calmness, and carrying heat and energy. Hydrotherapy can be used to treat everything from acne and depression to headaches and stomach problems, or proactively combat sleep disorders and stress.
The benefits of hydrotherapy are as varied as its applications, but can generally be organized based on whether the water being used is hot or cold. Here are some common benefits of hydrotherapy, and how to achieve them.
Cold water therapies include the use of ice to achieve health benefits. Immersion therapy — better known as an ice bath — is one of the most common types, but even applying ice to specific parts of the body would count as a cold-water hydrotherapy. The benefits of cold-water hydrotherapy include:
These benefits are all great for combatting illness. Additionally, a cold shower may boost your immune system.
Warm water immersion includes the use of hot tubs, baths, warm compresses, and steam. The use of hot water can decrease pain just like cold water, but it also has a set of benefits all to its own, including:
There are also applications not dependent on water temperature. Water can be used for both exercise and physical therapy; the water relieves pressure on joints while also providing resistance. You may not think of time spent in the lap pool or at an aquatic exercise class as hydrotherapy at first, but they absolutely are. And they also provide all the benefits of other types of exercise (including weight loss and cardiovascular health), with the added benefit of less wear and tear on your body.
You should always consult with your health care provider before starting any new health regimen. But hydrotherapy is a natural treatment that offers many health benefits for almost any condition, and is worth trying — if nothing else, just to relax.