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Hydrotherapy: Our Bodies React to Contact with Water

Our bodies are composed of 65% - 75% water. Water is second only to oxygen in being the most valuable resource needed by the human body to survive. You could actually survive longer without food than without water.

Besides drinking water, we use water in a variety of ways to enhance our health. On a hot day, you might take a shower or take a dip in the pool to cool off. You might use a vaporizer if you are experiencing congestion. If you go to the gym, you might engage in water aerobics classes, which offer low impact exercise; a gentle way to benefit from working out. Many of us unknowingly practice some form of hydrotherapy, or healing with water.

Our Bodies React to Contact with Water

Our bodies are stimulated by cool and cold water. Cool water keeps the lymphatic system moving, and increases the use of oxygen in our cells. A cold shower can be very refreshing. Warm and hot water cause blood vessels to dilate. This dilation is beneficial because it improves the transport of oxygen to our brain cells and aids in the elimination of toxins.

The History of Hydrotherapy

Healing with water has been practiced since ancient times. The Romans believed in the healing powers of water. Baths and natural springs were an important part of their culture. Many of these Roman baths are still standing today. The Romans also used spas, which have been in existence since 500 BC.

The most famous advocate of hydrotherapy was Father Sebastian Kneipp. Kneipp (pronounced Ka-nipe) therapy uses over 120 types of water treatments. Herbs also play a role with these treatments. Like exercise, hydrotherapy can train our bodies to perform better. The Kneipp treatment focuses on training the blood vessels and the whole body to work actively and more efficiently on their own.

Researchers have confirmed the effectiveness of Kneipp treatments. You can find numerous spas in Europe that incorporate Kneipp therapy into their practice. Kneipp specialists are highly trained, and the treatments they use are customized for each person.

Principles of Hydrotherapy
  • Before using cold water, warm the body through exercise or taking a warm foot bath.
  • Warm the body within ten to fifteen minutes after a cold application.
  • Short treatments should be followed by vigorous exercise.
  • Avoid alcohol and tobacco before and after the hydrotherapy treatment.
  • Change the treatments each time so your body doesnít become used to a particular regimen.

Types of Hydrotherapy Techniques
  • Water Stepping
  • Cold foot baths
  • Warm foot baths
  • Steam inhalation

Water Stepping

Water stepping is extremely effective for those who are feeling overheated or have mild circulatory problems. One benefit of water stepping is that it strengthens the veins, boosts the metabolism, and relaxes the nervous system.

Put your bare legs into cold water just below the knee. You can use a large bucket or bathtub for this purpose. Walk back and forth, making sure that when you put one leg down you are bringing the other leg completely out of the water as if you are walking like a stork. Walking back and forth in this fashion is beneficial, and the temperature change between the cold water and warm water will produce a healing effect. You can even try this technique in the snow. In either case, make sure to wipe your feet after the process.

Cold Foot Bath

If you are experiencing insomnia, sprains, headaches, or varicose veins, you might want to try a cold foot bath. Fill a basin with cold water and immerse your feet in the bath for fifteen seconds to one minute. Shake off the excess water and remove the rest with your hands. Do not dry off; instead, put warm socks on your feet.

Warm Foot Bath

Donít use warm foot baths if you have high blood pressure. This treatment is effective in stimulating the blood vessels, and it can also help with bladder infections. Warm foot baths have also been used by people who have cold feet or insomnia. Herbal supplements are used in conjunction with warm foot baths.

For warm foot baths, follow the same steps used for the cold foot bath, but use water thatís between 96-100 F. Keep your feet in the basin for ten to fifteen minutes. Finish this procedure with a quick cold foot bath, alternating the legs (you could also use a cool shower, alternating the legs.) The warm foot bath will cause your feet to get warm, the circulation will improve, and in a short time your entire body will feel warm.

Steam Inhalations

If a person has high blood pressure they should avoid steam inhalations. Steam inhalations are helpful for those suffering from nasal congestion or sinus infections. If this hydrotherapy treatment is used consistently, it can help persistent infections to heal more effectively. Steam inhalations are also a wonderful beauty treatment.

To begin your steam inhalation, bring a large pot of water to boil. You can add a pinch of sea salt or a drop of one of these essential oils, eucalyptus, lavender, or peppermint, to the pot. Leaning your body over the water, drape a towel over your head so that you are effectively guiding the steam to your face. Breathe deeply and comfortably. Continue this procedure for ten to fifteen minutes and end it by splashing cold water on your face. If you are suffering from an upper respiratory infection, it is recommended that you do a longer inhalation and lay down for at least an hour after the procedure. This will induce sweating and encourage toxins to leave the body.

There are numerous benefits to hydrotherapy. It has been effectively used to treat stress, depression, and a variety of other ailments. Incorporating hydrotherapy techniques into your routine can enhance your daily life.

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