You know that drinking lots of water is great for your health. Well, here’s how dunking yourself in a nice hot or cold bath is equally effective. Hydrotherapy has immense benefits…
For Anupam, 40, life had come to a standstill. His lower back pain seemed chronic and popping pills for years had not helped. Suffering from severe lower back pain because of his sedentary lifestyle, Anupam took to hydrotherapy after every other treatment failed. For almost a year now, every morning he heads to a hot water pool and exercises for an hour. From knee bending and hip movement to back movement and floating, the exercises have helped him reduce the stiffness and pain in his lower back. This not-so-popular therapy has changed Anupam’s life completely. This ancient therapy, part of traditional Chinese and Native American healing systems, helps tone the body, stimulates digestion, regulates circulation and boosts immunity, thus providing relief from pain.
Hydrotherapy was developed in 19th century Europe from techniques used in folk remedies. Though Preissnitz is credited as the pioneer in the field, the most famous early hydrotherapist was Sebastian Kneipp, a Bavarian priest.
HOW IS IT HELPFUL?
Exercising in water is easier, especially for older patients, because of its buoyant effect. Due to the lesser effect of gravity, you don’t need to put in the effort you would otherwise, and thus movement becomes easier.
OBJECTIVES OF HYDROTHERAPY
- To relieve pain
- To mobilise joints
- To promote relaxation
- To increase range of motion
- To improve general fitness
- To strengthen muscles and enhance coordination and balance
- Splash Your Face
Dip your hands into cold water. Put them directly on your the forehead and eyes. This reduces anxiety and increases concentration by stimulating the cranial nerves.
- Cold Compress On Your Neck
Place a wet towel around the neck. This helps in breathing and relieves tiredness.
- Hot Compress On Your Lower Back
If you are suffering from lower back pain, place a hot towel around it, including the pelvic zone. This lessens the pain and helps the pelvis relax.
WHAT CAN IT TREAT?
Neck pain, head injuries, spinal injuries, rheumatoid ailments, post-operative orthopaedic conditions, multiple sclerosis, sports injuries, trauma, strokes, arthritis
- It improves metabolism and cardiovascular and respiratory functions, circulating more oxygen towards the heart and regulating blood circulation.
- It greatly alleviates pains and stiffness, say in the case of painful joints.
DID YOU KNOW?
In Finland, a sauna was a place where women gave birth, and where bodies of the dead were washed.
COMMON FORMS OF HYDROTHERAPY
Wrap: A wrap is a cloth wet with either hot or cold water that is wrapped around the affected part of the body for a certain period. It helps treat arthritis and stomach problems influencing local metabolism and increasing blood circulation.
Douche: A douche is a device that introduces a stream of water into the body. For treatment, watering cans or jets are used. Saunas: Saunas don’t just help you look good, but are also used for several treatments. They eliminate toxins from the body, improve metabolism and cleanse the skin.
In sauna, certain essential oils should not be used by pregnant or nursing women or by people with specific illnesses.
Baths: Bathing in itself is of great help. Several types of baths can be used as hydrotherapy:
Rising Temperature Hip Bath
Stand in a tub of lukewarm water and add hot water gradually until its level reaches your navel. The final temperature should be around 40 °C. Repeat the process for 15–30 minutes and wrap a towel around yourself.
Beneficial in: Sciatica, common cold
Cold Foot Bath
Immerse feet, up to the calves, in a tub of cold water. When the water gets lukewarm, move out and wipe off excess water. Beneficial in: Circulatory problems, sleeplessness
Rising Temperature Foot Bath
Place your feet in a tub of warm water. Add hot water gradually till the temperature reaches 40 °C. Repeat for 10–15 minutes. Beneficial in: Relaxation
Sitz Bath (Hip Bath)
A sitz bath is a type of bath where you only place the pelvis and abdominal area in water, not the upper body, arms, legs or feet. Stand in a tub of water up to your hips. Depending on your problem, the water could be hot or cold. The name comes from the German verb sitzen, meaning ‘to sit’. Useful in relieving aches of the hips and lower abdomen, it also reduces inflammation in tailbone because of the heating effect of water.
Beneficial in: Alleviating inflammation of the anus and prostate, irritable bladder
Hot Bath Submerge yourself in hot water. The temperature should range from 36 °C to 41 °C.
Beneficial in: Stimulating the immune system, relaxing the body, relieving muscle spasm. It’s also good for the skin.
Fill the tub with cold water and bathe. The temperature may range from 10 °C to 22 °C. But do not stay in the cold water for too long.
Beneficial in: Improving metabolism, revitalising the body Precaution: Women should avoid
cold baths during menstruation.
Dip the affected body part in a hot basin for two minutes and then transfer it to a cold basin for 30 seconds. Repeat this process at least 10 times. Precautions: People suffering from paralysis, diabetes, hypertension, skin infections, open wounds should take the guidance of a practitioner.
Water birth, or giving birth in a pool of warm water (about 20 inches), relaxes the muscles and alleviates pain. It regulates blood circulation and slows down pulse rate. The water buoys and supports the back. It also simulates the womb atmosphere, making the delivery pleasant for the baby. Lucy Lawless, Kate Winslet and Pamela Anderson all opted for water births.