The Healing Power Of Water
Hydrotherapy Treatment has Brought Relief since Ancient Times
The healing properties of water were recognized by the ancient Egyptians in 2000 BC. The Romans were also strong believers in the power of hydrotherapy. As early as AD 1138 people travelled from all over England to Bath to wash away infirmities.
The ancient tradition of bathing has gradually evolved into several modern treatments called hydrotherapy, a generic term for water therapies which include:
- Water jets
- Underwater massage (Watsu, Jahara Technique)
- Mineral baths (Balneotherapy, Thalassotherapy)
- Whirlpool bath or hot tub
- Cold plunge
- Mineral bath
These treatments use physical water properties, such as temperature and pressure, for therapeutic purposes, to stimulate blood circulation and treat the symptoms of certain diseases.
The Relaxing and Healing Effects of Hydrotherapy
Water is the ubiquitous chemical substance, composed of hydrogen and oxygen, that is essential for the survival of many known forms of life and known as a nature’s healer. An aquatic therapy session can:
- Have favorable effects on the skin and muscles
- Calms the internal organs
- Stimulate nerve reflexes on the spinal cord
- Calm the endocrine system
Soaking in warm water will quiet and soothe your body. A dip in cold water, in contrast, will stimulate and invigorate. A soothing and relaxing bath can help counteract stress and its many effects on the body. It is the perfect antidote to a hectic and stressful lifestyle.
A study at the Mayo Clinic found that soaking in hot water gives many of the health benefits of exercise with less strain on the heart. Immersion in hot water first speeds up the heart to send blood to the surface and disperse extra body heat into the air. But after a few minutes, the warm blood causes the blood vessels to dilate, which lessens resistance to blood flow and lowers the blood pressure.
Water is used for more than just relaxation — it has become known to cure a number of ills. Medical professionals around the globe use the natural hydrotherapy of warm water soaking to:
- Ease anxiety and stress
- Improve sleep and relieve insomnia
- Relieve fibromyalgia and arthritis pain
- Increase injury and surgery healing
How Hydrotherapy Relieves Stress and Helps You to Think Better
The parasympathetic branch of our body’s nervous system increases hormones that cause the body to relax after stress has passed.
Warm water immersion seems to reduce the hormones associated with stress, at the same time separating you from your sources of stress which can further decrease your anxiety. Many people report an energizing effect from aquatic therapy that can last about four hours.
Another research found that, with 25 minutes of soaking in hot water (38ºC/102F) the autonomic nervous system alters, producing changes that are parallel to those seen during relaxation and accompanying a reduction in anxiety.
The study also suggests that along with the relaxation, warm water immersion may well have a positive effect on working memory and performance of cognitive tasks, including problem solving.
The Soothing Effects of a Hydrotherapy Session can Last Well Into the Night
Millions of otherwise healthy people have trouble sleeping at least one night a week, simply due to stressful hectic lifestyles. Studies suggest that immersion in warm water before bedtime can ease the transition into a deeper, more restful sleep. Your body’s core internal thermostat drops after leaving the water, which signals the body that it’s time to sleep.
Warm water’s relaxing properties may also contribute to this effect. The buoyancy of water reduces your body weight by approximately 90%—relieving pressure on joints and muscles, and creating the sensation of weightlessness, while the hot, swirling water of a hydromassage leaves you feeling both mentally and emotionally relaxed.
Warm Water Therapy and Aquatic Exercise can Help Maintain a Healthy Heart
Soaking in warm water increases the heart rate while lowering blood pressure, instead of raising it as other forms of exercise do.
One research study of the effects of water immersion temperatures in both younger and older people discovered profound effects that impact upon virtually every body system, including the autonomic nervous system, the circulatory system, and the cardiovascular system.
Warm water therapy was found to:
- Protect the heart from rhythm disturbances.
- Improve the efficiency of the heart muscle.
- Have a positive effect on the regulatory mechanisms that control heart rate, blood pressure, and circulation.
Immersing in warm water to chest depth changes cardiac function in some of the ways that mimic aerobic exercise.