The Benefits of Hydrotherapy
Hydrotherapy is a word most of us have heard but a lot of us probably don’t have a clear idea exactly what it is.
Essentially the word means ‘water as treatment/therapy’, thus it can mean lots of different things.
It has long been known that water has some very interesting properties particularly when it comes to the human body.
In ancient civilisations (think Egypt, Greece etc.) bathing in warm water and oils was used a method of relaxation and stress relief.
But it wasn’t until the 19th century that water started to be formally used for treatment by doctors and therapists.
Even then it was poorly understood why water was so helpful in curing pain and various ailments.
In this article we will aim to explain what beneficial effects of water we employ in hydrotherapy and what hydrotherapy means in a physiotherapy setting.
How Does It Work??
For all the science buffs out there, here’s the basic gist of how just being in water to exercise works to induce pain relief and healing.
Hydrotherapy relies on the mechanical and thermal effects of warm (or occasionally cold) water.
A normal temperature for a hydrotherapy pool is 33-36℃, much warmer than a normal swimming pool!
The warmth of the water helps open up your capillaries (the small blood vessels in your body that are closest to tissues) which leads to increased blood flow and circulation, helping your body oxygenate and heal tissue better and get rid of toxins faster.
Prolonged heat also has the effect of slowing down your internal organs, and is good at lessening certain types of aches and pains.
Heat increases the production of beneficial body hormones, and stimulates the immune system.
Warm, moist air from a hot bath can help open up congested or constricted airways in your lungs, throat and sinuses.
Benefits of Hydrotherapy
The two most beneficial mechanical effects of being in water are buoyancy and a little thing called hydrostatic pressure.
Buoyancy produces a feeling of partial weightlessness through your joints (you are only taking 10-15% of your bodyweight in chest high water) and can relieve a lot of pressure, which is particularly useful in arthritic joints or in people returning to walking after time in a cast or non-weight bearing.
It’s basically like taking a break from gravity for a while! Hydrostatic pressure is a property of water on solid objects, like your body!
Without going too in-depth some of the many benefits of this property include reducing swelling in injured joints, stimulating the immune system, improving cardiac function and blood flow and allowing participants to exercise more vigorously with less strain on muscles and the cardiovascular system.
Hopefully you’re starting to see the amazing benefits of exercising in warm water!