Hydrotherapy comes from the Greek word for "water healing." Practitioners of occupational therapy, physiotherapy, and alternative healing all use hydrotherapy to help heal people with pain and chronic conditions. The healing powers of water were known in ancient Greek, Roman, and Egyptian societies and described in writings from ancient Japan and China. In modern times, hydrotherapy began as physiotherapy in water, but it has grown past this narrow definition in recent years and now covers using water for rehabilitation, exercise, relaxation, and more, both in the home and with the help of professionals.
Hydrotherapy uses water to help relieve pain and other symptoms of various health conditions. It can utilize hot or cold water and sometimes uses a mix of both. Water therapy can take place in pools, hot tubs, and Jacuzzis, as well as more unusual places such as a Swiss shower, Scotch hose, or the sea. Hydrotherapy can involve exercises and movements as seen in aquatic physiotherapy, but effective treatments also include mineral baths, underwater massage, or just relaxing in weightlessness the water provides.
Many different health conditions benefit from exercise and therapy in water; arthritis is one common ailment. The water can help ease inflammation of the joints and allow people with arthritis to move while buoyed by the water. Studies show hydrotherapy has many benefits for people with fibromyalgia, including improved mental health and reduced pain and tenderness. Therapists use hydrotherapy to help people recover from stroke and to improve the health and well being of those with Parkinson's disease, whiplash, and more.
Hydrotherapy can help ease the inflammation and pain associated with injuries or chronic pain. Cold water reduces swelling, and warm water can relax the spasms occurring around the painful area. In addition, warm water can help increase blood circulation to painful areas, which also eases pain and speeds healing, allowing people to decrease their dependency on pain medications.
Hydrotherapy can help people recover from both injuries and surgery. Following joint surgery, including hip or knee replacements, ligament reconstructions, or post-fracture, people are unable to put weight on the limb. Hydrotherapy allows people to move normally much sooner, which speeds up the healing process. Muscle injuries can also benefit from the weightlessness of moving in water. The cold water and the hydrostatic pressure that creates a compression effect while the limb is underwater limit the inflammation of muscle injuries.
Exercises in water can help strengthen muscles. People can work against water resistance and move up to using special floats or moving faster to continue to their progress. Turbulence in the water also leads to an unstable environment, which helps strengthen the core as the patient works to maintain stability and balance. Warm water relaxes muscles, allowing for greater flexibility and an increased range of movement in all joints. This can allow for deeper stretches, which improves flexibility on dry land.
Exercising in a pool doesn't just mean swimming. An increasing number of fitness programs are available for the water, including deep water running and aqua aerobics. These forms of exercise allow people to increase their cardiovascular fitness without impacting their joints. People with injuries or those with weak joints can take advantage of the buoyancy of the water to do a hard workout without pain or the risk of further injury.
Many forms of hydrotherapy help improve circulation and blood flow around the body. This helps the immune system rid the body of unwanted materials, strengthening it and helping fight colds and flu. Using warm water or saunas and steam rooms encourages sweating, which helps the body get rid of toxins, keeping people healthy.
Stress and anxiety are increasing problems in the modern world. Floating in warm water or sitting surrounded by bubbling water can help people relax and let go of their worries. Adding meditation techniques such as breathing, visualization, and muscle relaxation can help enhance the stress-relieving qualities of the water. Spending time with family and friends in such relaxing environs can lead to better mental health. As electronic gadgets don't interact well with water, it's necessary to truly switch off for a time, which ensures people get the maximum benefits.
Humans need between seven and nine hours of sleep each night, but millions don't get enough. Hydrotherapy is a solution that doesn't require medication. Studies show soaking in hot water before bed can help people transition more easily into a deep sleep. Routines also help, so spending time in a bath or hot tub at the same time each night can help you reset your internal clock and let your body know it's time to sleep.
Almost everyone can benefit from hydrotherapy; the practice is becoming common for the rehabilitation of animals. Dogs and horses are the most common patients, but other animals can also receive treatment. The benefits for animals are similar to the benefits for humans: the water offers an impact-free environment for exercise and injury rehabilitation, often using underwater treadmills. The increased circulation can also help skin and coats, improve the immune system, and lead to better digestion.
This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.