The human body is comprised of more than 80% water. It makes sense that soaking in water would feel so good to so many people.
Ancient cultures from Europe, Japan and China began using water for medical therapy centuries ago, and many people around the world continue to enjoy the benefits of hydrotherapy today. Healing with water is one of the earliest, safest and least expensive methods of treating many ordinary ailments. Hydrotherapy is particularly popular in Europe, and the many health facilities there that feature the therapy testify to its reputation for healing properties. North American naturopathic doctors frequently recommend self-care with hydrotherapy.
It is no longer necessary to visit spas or other facilities to receive the benefits of hydrotherapy. People can practice water healing in their own homes by using walk in bathtubs equipped with water jets, and there are several types of hydrotherapy tubs available. Whirlpool-style, jetted tubs are similar to hot tubs with jets that force water out of them, and some tubs have dual-jetting options. Warm-air, hydrotherapy tubs have dampened jet ports that gently massage with warm air bubbles. Seniors and those with health conditions appreciate the gentle water action produced by the dampened ports because the softer motion is less likely to cause bruising. In addition, the bathwater does not go through an air hydrotherapy system, which helps to make the system more hygienic.
Hydrotherapy consists of using water to treat pain and reduce inflammation as well as to rejuvenate, sustain and restore health. It provides a natural method of dealing with injury, pain or disease without medication. Those who suffer from backaches, sciatica, arthritis, diabetes, lumbago, high blood pressure, poor blood circulation and other conditions may find relief for their symptoms by using hydrotherapy tubs. Even people who do not have health problems enjoy hydrotherapy because hot water can help prevent stiffness and relieve fatigue. A warm bath can sooth nerves and help people with urinary and bladder problems, low fevers and mild colds. When treating the whole body, the water should be at shoulder level and about 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
Hydrotherapy has thermal and mechanical effects that may provide healing qualities. The heat and pressure of the water stimulate a natural reaction in the body, and nerves that feel impulses on the skin transfer them deep inside the body where the impulses can help produce stress hormones, stimulate the immune system, aid with digestion, blood flow and circulation and decrease sensitivity to pain.
Heat usually produces a quieting, soothing effect and slows internal organ activity while cold has the opposite effect and speeds internal activity, producing a stimulating and energizing effect. Cold also causes constriction of superficial blood vessels, and that narrowing forces the blood into the internal organs. Hot water causes dilation of blood vessels and helps remove wastes normally found in body tissues. People with muscle tension or stressful anxiety usually feel better after a hydrotherapy treatment or even a hot shower. Following the warm treatment with a brief, cold shower may help invigorate the senses.
Immersing oneself in a walk-in bathtub can produce a type of weightlessness and relieve the body from gravity’s pull. The hydrostatic effect of water gently massages the body, and when water is in motion, it can stimulate the skin’s touch receptors to enhance blood circulation and relieve muscle tightness. Water healing may help maintain metabolic function as well.
Hydrotherapy tubs can be helpful for people who want to reduce inflammation and alleviate pain. Those who have difficulty getting into or out of standard tubs can benefit from using walk in bathtubs. People with mobility problems may be able to maintain their independence and dignity longer when they have walk in bathtubs, and if those tubs are hydrotherapy tubs, the benefits of hydrotherapy can be theirs as well.
An article on Rheumatology published in the Oxford Journals reports on a review of hydrotherapy’s effectiveness in treating fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS). The review concluded that hydrotherapy offers FMS patients short-term beneficial effects for pain.
According to the American Cancer Society, hydrotherapy has proved to be helpful when used as physical therapy to help alleviate minor pain and aching as well as to help people relax. The society also reports that some people claim that warm water streams directed at various body parts help nervous disorders, headaches, multiple sclerosis and paralysis as well as gallbladder, lung and liver disease.