With water making up approximately 60% of an adult’s body weight, it’s not surprising that we often turn to H2O to cure what ails us. In fact an entire field of healthcare is devoted to using water as a treatment for all manner of conditions: hydrotherapy.
The benefits of hydrotherapy are many and varied. It eases chronic pain. It assists with injury recovery and rehabilitation. It reduces anxiety and stress. It gives those who might otherwise struggle with exercise the opportunity to stay active. It can even improve sleep and reduce stress.
It almost sounds a little far-fetched that such a raft of benefits can come from a simple dip. So what is hydrotherapy exactly? How does it work? And how might you capitalise on its benefits yourself?
Let’s find out.
What is hydrotherapy?
The term ‘hydrotherapy’ describes a broad range of therapies that involve the use of water as a treatment. Hydrotherapy uses changes in temperature (the water is usually a warm 33C-36C) and pressure (the water can be pushed through small hydromassage jets or large propulsion systems that generate currents) to treat the symptoms of certain conditions and diseases.
History is littered with the use of water-based therapies. The ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Romans and even our own Māori used water to treat and to heal.
A revival of the practice began in the 1700s, and it hasn’t slowed since. While best known as a means of relieving pain, modern science has revealed a wealth of other potential uses for hydrotherapy. As shown in the studies below, hydrotherapy and warm water immersion have been proven to:
- Offer relief to sufferers of chronic pain, including those with arthritis, fibromyalgia, migraines, nerve pain and inflammation.
- Improve circulation and regulate blood pressure.
- Help people with limited mobility to be more active.
- Improve sleep.
- Reduce stress and anxiety.
What is the effectiveness of hydrotherapy?
The promise of hydrotherapy appears to be huge. But how effective is it in reality? We can gain an understanding by taking a look at the specific effects of hydrotherapy on the human body. When you immerse yourself in warm water it elicits a number of physiological responses:
- Your heart rate increases and your blood vessels dilate, sending more blood (and the oxygen and nutrients it carries) around your body.
- The buoyancy of your body counteracts gravity, taking pressure off muscles and joints.
- Your metabolism improves, as the physiological response to warm water immersion is similar to that of physical exercise.
It’s important to note that hydrotherapy is a way to manage chronic symptoms or assist the body with its natural healing processes. It is not a cure for disease or chronic pain. The effectiveness of hydrotherapy lies in its ability to make life more comfortable, which can lead to benefits that extend far beyond the physical, to energy levels, sleep quality, cognitive function, happiness and the ability to participate in daily life.
How often should I do hydrotherapy?
The frequency of your hydrotherapy sessions will depend on your situation and what you’re trying to achieve. If you are undertaking hydrotherapy with a professional, you might begin with 1-2 sessions per week (usually 30-45 minutes), before eventually shifting to 2-3 sessions per week.
Those with the necessary equipment at home, meanwhile, can enjoy hydrotherapy sessions every day. If you’re the proud owner of a Hot Spring spa pool or Endless Pools swim spa, a healing hydrotherapy session is only ever a few steps from your back door. For best results we recommend soaking for 15 minutes every day.
Who is hydrotherapy good for?
As shown in the varied physiological effects of hydrotherapy, and the even more varied benefits that result from these effects, hydrotherapy is useful for a wide range of people.
- People with chronic diagnoses: Arthritis, nerve pain, circulatory issues, fibromyalgia; a broad spectrum of conditions can be managed with hydrotherapy.
- People with limited mobility: The elderly, the disabled and sufferers of chronic pain can find comfort by taking the weight off their muscles and joints and enjoying freer movement.
- People recovering from injury or sickness: If you’re rehabilitating from an injury or recovering from a bout of illness, gentle hydrotherapy can improve your range of movement and deliver more nutrient-rich blood to the areas of the body that need it.
- Athletes: Whether you’re a weekend amateur or a fully-fledged professional, hydrotherapy can be a means to get improved performance from your body.
- Anyone who wants to feel their best: The wide range of physical and mental benefits that can stem from hydrotherapy mean that anyone can find value in regular sessions.
Spa pools and swim spas as hydrotherapy machines
For a lot of people the word ‘hydrotherapy’ will conjure up images of large, purpose-built machines in aquatic centres and health clinics. But what if you could enjoy all the perks of hydrotherapy right in your own home?
Water temperature and water pressure are the two key factors in hydrotherapy. In Hot Spring spa pools and Endless Pools swim spas you get ultimate control over temperature and pressure, which makes them ultra-effective, yet compact and affordable, hydrotherapy machines.
The temperature of Hot Spring spa pools can be controlled down to a fraction of a degree, and they feature the latest and greatest in hydromassage jet technology, ensuring you enjoy therapeutic streams exactly where you need them.
Endless Pools swim spas offer similar features to Hot Spring spa pools, while also delivering a deep, wide, powerful and customisable current, within which you can exercise, rehabilitate and recover, or enjoy general hydrotherapy whenever you please.
The hydrotherapy and aquacise offered by our spa pools and swim spas needs to be felt to be believed… which is why we offer the opportunity to try before you buy! Your local Hot Spring dealer has a range of warm and bubbling models ready to go, so why not book in a test soak today?