We know that water is one of the primary source of life. We can live several days without food but we cannot live without water. The average human body is composed of 50-75% water, an adult 57-60% and an infant about 75-80% water. The percent of water depends on your hydration level.
We feel thirsty when we have lost 2-3% of water in our body. Physical coordination and mental awareness drop at about 15 dehydration. About 49% of the human weight are the skeleton but when the bound water is eliminated either by heat or chemical desiccation, half of the weight is lost.
This is how important water to us. Ancient and modern medicine have harnessed the healing power of water. Modern medicine and modern therapies use water in treating illnesses and ailments. New techniques and ways have been discovered to to include water in providing general wellness to people. Hydrotherapy is one type of treatment where water is used at its fullest. By definition, hydrotherapy is a part of medicine that uses water for pain relief and treatment. It is mostly applied in physiotherapy and occupational therapy. The treatment encompasses a broad application ranging from different therapeutic methods that takes advantage of the physical properties of water like pressure and temperature, blood stimulation and circulation and treatment of certain diseases. It is mostly preferred by the elderly and people suffering from severe dislocations and musculoskeletal issues because it’s a low contact type of therapy. Modern hydrotherapy techniques employ different ways of treatment and gadgets that includes:
- Underwater massage
- Water jets
- Mineral baths
- Hot tub
- Cold plunge
- Roman bath
- Whirlpool bath
Hydrotherapy Effects On The Body
The water in hydrotherapy delivers temperature and pressure changes to the body. Item changes are sensed by the nerve endings in the skin and muscle and results in neural reflex effects that are controlled by the nervous system. The reflexes can be described as a relaxation and tensing of the blood vessels which in turn changes the rate of the blood flow and the metabolic functions of the body.
Treatment Types For Hydrotherapy
- Hot water hydrotherapy. The body responds to external heat and it initiates changes to keep the body cool that includes dilating the blood vessels, diverting the blood flow to the extremities and to the skin’s surface opening up the pores of the skin. This activates the sweat glands and relaxing the muscles. A hot bath results in a relaxed, less stress full body state and enhance the calmness of the nervous system. Inhaling warm water vapor helps in making the small airways and air sacs to dilate and increase the lung’s ability to move mucus and phlegm out easily. It helps in making people breath easily especially for people suffering asthma.
- Cold water hydrotherapy. Cold water and ice causes the body to conserve heat. It results in blood vessel constrictions and decrease of blood flow through them. The blood flow is diverted to the core organs to help keep it warm and to for it to function properly. Skin pores close, sweat glands shut down, the muscle tenses n adrenal glands activates. This is best for people suffering from heat strokes.
- Mechanical hydrotherapy. Soaking and full body immersion sessions are an important part of the therapy.
- Underwater exercises and water pressure. Water is denser that air thus the body is pushed more than air. It helps support the joints and muscles. Water produces a massage like and soothing sensation on the skin and muscles helping it to relax. Water jets add to this sensation and making the session more relaxing.
- Water with bubbles. The gentle sensation that the water bubbles bring results in certain neural reflexes to activate resulting in muscle relaxation and decrease in body pain.
- Water jets. It activates the nerves in the skin and muscles, it increases the blood circulation in the target body area resulting better oxygen circulation and promotes toxin elimination.
Hydrotherapy has many health benefits but too much heat or cold can have adverse effects on the body. People with certain types of diseases may be suitable to have hydrotherapy sessions or have it under a strict supervision of a trusted physician. Before starting any therapy, consult your physician and follow their advice regarding the matter.