The health benefits of hydrotherapy

When you hear the word “hydrotherapy,” you may picture professional
athletes recovering from their latest performance in an ice bath or a hot
tub. While these two treatments are

examples of hydrotherapy
, the practice itself is much broader; hydrotherapy is any use of water for
healing or health benefit.

Water has many properties that make it helpful for treating diseases and
maintaining health, such as increasing blood flow, taking pressure off the
body, promoting calmness, and carrying heat and energy.

Hydrotherapy can be used to treat everything

from acne and depression to headaches and stomach problems, or proactively
combat sleep disorders and stress.

The

benefits of hydrotherapy are as varied as its applications
, but can generally be organized based on whether the water being used is
hot or cold. Here are some common benefits of hydrotherapy, and how to
achieve them.

Cold water

Cold water therapies include the use of ice to achieve health benefits.
Immersion therapy — better known as an ice bath — is one of the most common
types, but even applying ice to specific parts of the body would count as a
cold-water hydrotherapy. The benefits of cold-water hydrotherapy include:

  1. Decreasing pain
  2. Reducing inflammation
  3. Lowering body temperature (for managing fever)
  4. Reducing soreness

These benefits are all great for combatting illness. Additionally, a cold
shower may

boost your immune system
.

Hot water

Warm water immersion includes the use of hot tubs, baths, warm compresses,
and steam. The use of hot water can decrease pain just like cold water, but
it also has

a set of benefits all to its own
, including:

  1. Increased blood flow
  2. Muscle (and mental) relaxation
  3. Removal of toxins from the body

There are also applications

not dependent on water temperature
. Water can be used for both exercise and physical therapy; the water
relieves pressure on joints while also providing resistance. You may not
think of time spent in the lap pool or at an aquatic exercise class as
hydrotherapy at first, but they absolutely are. And they also provide all
the benefits of other types of exercise (including weight loss and
cardiovascular health), with the added benefit of less wear and tear on
your body.

You should always consult with your health care provider before starting
any new health regimen. But hydrotherapy is a natural treatment that offers
many health benefits for almost any condition, and is worth trying — if
nothing else, just to relax.

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