Hydrotherapy: The Beauty in Simplicity
What is hydrotherapy?
The use of water (generally cold, or contrasting hot and cold) on a portion of or the whole body.
What does hydrotherapy do?
An increase in circulation is the primary and initial response of the body to hydrotherapy.
Why is an increase in circulation in specific areas so broadly beneficial?
By moving more amounts of blood and lymphatic fluid, you increase the amount of (and speed) metabolic waste removed from the tissue area, and increasing the amount of nutrients and oxygen reaching the area. Since it is in a system, effecting one area will have an effect on the whole system.
Why cold water?
“Short cold” applications of water help the body to react and to respond.
If you only applied warm water, at the end of the treatment there would be something similar to stagnation of blood in that area. By doing “short cold”, or always ending on cold, the body initially pulls the blood in, but then moves it right back out in order to warm the area, increasing circulation, rather than letting it be stagnant. (Note: Hydrotherapy can only be performed on patients that are warmed. If they are not warmed, they must first be warmed before any kind of cold water treatment can be done. If not, the body does not usually have the strength to respond to the treatment.)
Is there a shock factor to hydrotherapy?
This is not shocking the system. We are looking to stimulate the system. If done inappropriately, it is possible.
What sorts of things can hydrotherapy be used to treat?
Hydrotherapy can be used for every condition or in conjunction with other modalities. The handful of exceptions would include treating conditions over an open wound and certain stages of pregnancy.
Can hydrotherapy cause fatigue?
Hydrotherapy should not cause fatigue. If it is causing fatigue, the practitioner is doing something inappropriate. That does not mean that you might not be tired. Sometimes the body needs to rest and respond to the treatment.
If fatigue is occurring, the practitioner may be treating too large of an area, or trying to push healing too quickly.
Any tips to get over the modern apprehension of cold water?
If you tell a person nowadays to use cold water, they will cringe and never see you again.
The apprehension of the cold is because you think that it will last. When doing a wrap, the cold lasts a matter of moments. Within several minutes, your body has begun to dry and warm the wrap.
Short cold applications last anywhere from 30 seconds to a maximum of 3 minutes. The experience of short cold water done appropriately is stimulating, invigorating, and health promoting.
What hydrotherapy treatments are used in modern times?
Some examples include:
Rinses (in German, guss)
What is Constitutional Hydrotherapy?
It was developed by O.G. Carroll in Spokane WA. Instead of wrapping the whole body, there is an alternation of hot and cold towels first on the chest and then on the back. The treatment also includes muscular contractions through an electrical stimulation unit.
What types of hydrotherapy treatment do you prefer?
I prefer wraps and constitutional hydrotherapy. I see quicker results in regaining health and I see more patient involvement with home treatment.
Can hydrotherapy be done at home?
It is easy enough to learn and be helpful at home, but doctoral guidance is always beneficial. The book My Water Cure (written in the 1800s) was written so that the common peasants in Germany could treat themselves at home. There are massive volumes of books written by doctors who do it as well, getting into the nuts and bolts of it.
How does Germany incorporate hydrotherapy into daily routine?
Many towns in Germany have areas in their city parks where the public can come and do treatments on their own. The national healthcare system of Germany will still pay a portion of the fees incurred for citizens to go several weeks at a time at a hydrotherapy clinic for treatments. The EU also sponsors elementary schools that teach the kids how to do hydrotherapy.
Can you give examples of everyday use for hydrotherapy?
· End your daily shower with cool water for 20 sec. Your body responds to the cold stimuli of the shower and begins to heat you up. When you step out of the shower, you are usually warmer than if you had ended your shower with hot water.
· Walk barefoot in wet grass.
· Do contrast hot and cold water for common sprains and strains.
How can hydrotherapy treat common ailments?
Cold compresses are great for hydrotherapy, especially in children.
Take a cold wet washcloth, and place it on the baby’s back. When the baby has warmed it, recool it and put it back. It allows the fever to not be suppressed, but keeps the temperature at a safe place.
Oftentimes, when you initially put a cold cloth or wrap on a baby or small child, they will scream - but only for moments. They will begin to warm it, and it begins to relax them and their nervous systems.