Wellness Wednesday on Empty Streets: Hydrotherapy

Posted 8:13 AM by Mezhal Ulao in Labels: ,
As most of my friends and readers know that I am on a strict diet and trying to figure out ways to lose some weight. In my research I have bumped into the topic of Hydrotherapy along with it's benefits. I got introduced to it as some of my friends have insisted that it works wonders. So out of curiosity I let my hands do the walking and here is what I have found out.

Hydrotherapy, formerly called hydropathy involves the use of water for soothing pains and treating diseases.

Its use has been recorded in ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman civilizations. Egyptian royalty bathed with essential oils and flowers, while Romans had communal public baths for their citizens. Hippocrates prescribed bathing in spring water for sickness. A Dominican monk, Sebastian Kneipp, again revived it during the 19th century. His book My Water Cure in 1886 was published and translated into many languages.

The use of water to treat rheumatic diseases has a long history. Today, hydrotherapy is used to treat musculoskeletal disorders such as arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, or spinal cord injuries and in patients suffering burns, spasticity, stroke or paralysis. It is also used to treat orthopedic and neurological conditions in dogs and horses and to improve fitness.

According to the International SPA Association (ISPA), hydrotherapy has long been a staple in European spas. It's the generic term for water therapies using jets, underwater massage and mineral baths (e.g. balneotherapy, Iodine-Grine therapy, Kneipp treatments, Scotch hose, Swiss shower, thalassotherapy) and others. It also can mean a whirlpool bath, hot Roman pool, hot tub, Jacuzzi, cold plunge and 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.

Forms of hydrotherapy

Packings

The full pack consists of a wet sheet enveloping the body, with a number of dry blankets packed tightly over it, including a macintosh covering or not. In an hour or less these are removed and a general bath administered. The pack is a derivative, sedative, sudorific and stimulator of cutaneous excretion. The trapped body heat causes the patient to be warmed. There are numerous modifications of it, notably the cooling pack, where the wrappings are loose and scanty, permitting evaporation, and the application of indefinite duration, the sheet being rewetted as it dries; this was used to deal with fever. There are also local packs, to trunk, limbs or head separately, which are derivative, soothing or stimulating, according to circumstance and detail.

Hot air baths

Hot air baths or saunas, the chief of which is the Turkish (properly, the Roman) bath, consisting of two or more chambers ranging in temperature from 50°C to 100°C or higher, but mainly used at 66°C for curative purposes. Exposure is from twenty minutes up to two hours according to the effect sought, and is followed by a general bath, and occasionally by soaping and shampooing. It is stimulating, derivative, depurative, sudorific and alternative, powerfully promoting tissue change by increase of the natural waste and repair. It determines the blood to the surface, reducing internal congestions, is a potent diaphoretic, and, through the extremes of heat and cold, is an effective nervous and vascular stimulant and tonic. Morbid growths and secretions, as also the uraemic, gouty and rheumatic diathesis, were believed to be beneficially influenced by it. The full pack and Turkish bath for a while seemed to be replacing the once familiar hot bath.

General baths

General baths comprise the rain (or needle), spray (or rose), shower, shallow, plunge, douche, wave and common morning sponge baths, with the dripping sheet, and hot and cold spongings, and are combinations, as a rule, of hot and cold water.

Local baths

Local baths comprise the sitz, douche (or spouting), spinal, foot and head baths, of hot or cold water, singly or in combination, successive or alternate. The sitz, head and foot baths are used flowing on occasion. The application of cold by Leiters tubes was believed to be effective for reducing inflammation (e.g. in meningitis and in sunstroke); in these a network of metal or indiarubber tubing is fitted to the part affected, and cold water kept continuously flowing through them. Rapid alternations of hot and cold water was believed to have a powerful effect in vascular stasis and lethargy of the nervous system and absorbents, benefitting local congestions and chronic inflammations.

Compresses

Bandages (or compresses) are of two kinds,cooling, of wet material left exposed for evaporation, used in local infiammations and fevers; and heating, of the same, covered with waterproof material, used in congestion, external or internal, for short or long periods. Poultices, warm, of bread, linseed, bran, &c., changed but twice in twenty-four hours, are identical in action with the heating bandage, and superior only in the greater warmth and consequent vital activity their closer application to the skin ensures.

The benefits of hydrotherapy include:

  • dramatically increasing the elimination of waste, thus assisting detoxification
  • loosening tense, tight muscles and encouraging relaxation
  • increasing the metabolic rate and digestion activity
  • hydrating the cells, improving skin and muscle tone
  • boosting the immune system, allowing it to function more efficiently
  • improving the function of the internal organs by stimulating their blood supply
Here is a video presentation of one type of Hydrotherapy and it's benefits:



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