What is hydrotherapy? Characteristics of hydrotherapy
Hydrotherapy is the external therapeutic use of water for the cure of the pain or the remediation of certain diseases. Hydrotherapy is based on the ability of water to transmit heat or cold, which produces specific responses to each type of individual.
The use of water for healing dates back to antiquity. The first to use were the Egyptians, but the maximum boom coincided with the ancient Greeks and Romans, as shown in the remains of baths found.
Among the top names in the history of the phytotherapy, we must mention Priessnitz Vincent, who based on studies of Hippocrates . He is considered the father of hydrotherapy. Sebastian Kneipp is another of the big names. He was a German priest, founder of the " Kneipp cure". He used hydrotherapy, along with herbs and a proper diet to increase the body's defenses. thereby he achieved to cure his own illness. The third great man is Louis Kuhne, famous for his book "The new science of healing ", which focuses primarily on the technique of the baths, especially the so-called "vital bath"
The spas became especially popular in Europe during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. At present, the therapeutic use of water is well recognized and there are many centers around the world. We find the use of hydrotherapy spas both as nursing homes, hospitals, etc. Increasingly is setting the use of massage not only in hotels but in private homes.
Reactions of the body to water. The temperature of the water in hydrotherapy
Body reactions to different water temperatures: In hydrotherapy thermal effects are considered those that occur as a result of water temperature, whether or not the applied water has medicinal properties.
We can say that between 26 and 33 º C water produces no specific sensation, as it approaches to body temperature. Between 34 and 36 ° C, we start to notice it hot . Between 36 and 38 º C we notice it hot ; between 39 and 45 º C we perceive it as very hot. On the opposite side, between 10 and 18 º C is considered cold water and between 19 and 26 ° C, moderately cold.
In general, according to the degree of heat that has water, we can say that it creates the following conditions:
- Cold water: In early stages, it produces a cold sensation by vasoconstriction of the peripheral blood vessels. Later, in reaction, it provides warmth and redness in the skin and dilation of blood vessels in the skin. This type of water is used to increase metabolism in the event that the body then reacts to heat by increasing the body temperature. It is used to reduce acute inflammation resulting from trauma. In general, cold water has an invigorating effect.
- Hot water: It increases body heat, reddens the skin by means of producing peripheral vasodilation (blood is concentrated in the area where water is applied). It is used to decrease pain, relax the body, purify the body by increasing metabolism, reducing stress and improving the defenses.
- Very hot water: It causes a primary state of discomfort and the body becomes pale at first. Subsequently, a reaction that turns pale redness and discomfort into well being. . It is applied in short periods (1 to 2 minutes) and ending with cold water. This procedure is good for the circulatory system since it improves circulation.
- Use of alternate hot and cold water: Used to improve blood circulation, strengthen the tissues and relieve congestion. It's a good way to activate the body's defense systems and train the blood vessels that are strengthened as a result of exercise resulting from the expansion of their muscular walls followed by their contraction.
Types of water used in hydrotherapy
Body reactions to the different composition of water
They are those that occur as a result, not only of the temperature of the water, but of minerals dissolved in water. According to the content of these waters , they can be considered as:
- Sulphated water: They are rich in sulfates. Increase the intestinal peristalsis, and therefore have a laxative or purgative when drunk in larger quantity. ( suitable for constipation) They are also used as stimulants of bile.
- Chlorinated water: They are rich in chlorides. They are used as stimulants in the body, for the treatment of skin diseases.
Main medicinal uses of hydrotherapy
The use of water as a curative element is one of the most economical and safest ways to remedy the physical problems. In general, water relieves pain, improves physical conditions, soothes and relaxes the body and provides a sense of well being.
Many are the specific treatments that can be accomplished by hydrotherapy. Among them, we can mention the following:
- Pelvic and abdominal problems: They are remedied essentially by sitz baths that can be made with hot or cold water. Among them we have, for example, the treatment of hemorrhoids, constipation, kidneys diseases, diseases of the liver.
- Problems of the circulatory system: such as poor circulation, varices. It is usually applied with cold water. However, it is not adequate to rheumatic patients who react negatively to cold.
- Problems of body pain: such as rheumatic pain, headache, arthrosis, etc. These are mainly chronic pains which are treated with hot water. Do not apply hot water in the case of severe pain caused by trauma, as in the case of sprains or shock.
- Problems of the skin
More information on water in the listing above