Water Therapy as an Effective Treatment  

by Pool Builders on 05-13-2012 in Articles

Exercise programs, along with any other treatment processes that incorporates water, are categorized as water therapy, also sometimes referred to as hydrotherapy. This generalized classification includes a wide variety of remedies, exercise programs and therapeutic measures that heal, treat and enhance. In fact, many of the water-holding structures that you use for enjoyment, such as a pool or a jacuzzi, actually have therapeutic uses within hydrotherapy.

Types of Water Therapy

There are two main types of water therapy: hot and cold. Although these two groupings exist, the treatments that are under each category differ based on how they are executed and the benefits that they convey.

A swimming pool or a water-filled tank may serve in which do exercises, which helps to increase your range of motion, relieve pain and reduce the strain of your bones and joints. Generally, the pool or tank should contain water with a temperature of around 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius). Thus, a swimming pool or a tank is grouped under the subdivision of water therapy known as hot water therapy. As a therapeutic measure, a jacuzzi relieves stress and helps your muscles to relax. As a form of a hot liquid therapy, a steam sauna provides you with a relaxing experience that aids in decreasing pain. The steam in a sauna will generally reach temperatures of about 176 degrees Fahrenheit, or 80 degrees Celsius.

Contrast water therapy, also referred to as hot/cold immersion therapy, consists of two basins of the colorless liquid, one with hot and one with cold, in which you submerge your entire body or a body part in. With a hot/cold immersion bath, you alternate your body or a body part between the hot and cold, in order to trigger vasodilation and vasoconstriction. A hydrotherapy wrap is another variety of water therapy that consists of wrapping your body or a specific body part in a wet wrap. The temperature of the water helps to relax you and ease sore muscles.

Other water therapy methods include hot or cold immersion baths. When the immersion bath is cold, also known as an ice bath, your blood vessels tighten, resulting in a speedier recovery. The theory is that waste products are removed from the submerged area, which aids in the quicker recovery time. A hot water immersion bath will not only relax you, but it will relax your muscles as well, which can increase your range of motion and relieve pain. Each type of bath can be either full or partial, meaning that either your entire body is placed into the bath or only a body part, such as an arm or leg, is submerged.

How it Works

Both kinds of water therapy work in the same manner. Basically, when you immerse yourself into an entire vat of an icy solution, or you apply a cold pack to your leg, you are receiving the same type of response. This is because of the temperature of the water, rather than the water itself. However, water does give you a feeling of weightlessness that can assist with relieving tension, stress and pain. Basically, if you enter into a sauna or a steam bath, you are opening your blood vessels, while using the thermal energy to relieve pain and soothe sore muscles.


Water therapeutics can benefit various health conditions ranging, including fever, arthritis, bronchitis or muscle over-exertion. The medical conditions that can be treated or the symptoms that can be reduced are dependent upon the type of hydrotherapy administered--both the temperature of the water and the way it is applied will affect its benefits. For example, a hot immersion bath will soothe sore muscles, be beneficial to those with rheumatism and relax your muscles after a rigorous workout. On the other hand, an ice bath has the ability to stimulate recovery of muscles that have been overused. Often, a cold water bath will be followed by a warm water bath to dramatically increase the treatment's potential. In some cases, immersion baths are given with alternating water temperatures, since the hot substance opens up blood vessels and the cold substance tightens up blood vessels, which results in a pumping action that sends an increased amount of blood flow to the injured or sore muscles. A cold water wrap around your head will reduce a fever, while a cold water wrap around your leg can stimulate the healing process and ease the pain.

Saunas offer a great deal of benefits besides weight loss and stress relief. During your time in the sauna, you are ridding your body of harmful toxins that you are sweating out of your system. When you are in the sauna, your heart rate will increase and your blood will circulate more quickly. A steam bath also reduces inflammation in the chest and opens airways, making it an ideal remedy for someone with bronchitis. Additionally, it reduces respiratory resistance and encourages mucus secretion within the respiratory system.

The common cold and back pain are also affected by immersion baths. If you opt for a cold bath for your feet, you are positively affecting a headache, low blood pressure, poor circulation and sleeplessness. In addition to treating these conditions, an ice bath for your feet will ease the pain associated with a contusion or other form of trauma in your lower calves or feet. It can also ease the pain of varicose veins and positively impact edema.

Wet wraps are used to treat and relieve pain dealing with a variety of conditions. For instance, a neck wrap can aid in alleviating a sore throat. On the contrary, a trunk wrap lowers fever, while a joint wrap may soothe discomfort that arises because of rheumatoid arthritis. A full body wrap may even be used to reduce the pain caused by an ulcer.

Warm packs have been shown to be beneficial for stimulating blood flow and aiding in pain relief for chronic conditions, such as renal disease, arthrosis and cystitis. On the other hand, cold packs benefit you if you have an inflammatory condition. Cold packs may also be used for strains, sprains and other types of trauma. These icy pouches can bring nearly immediate relief from headaches, as well.


Hydrotherapy has its share of benefits dealing with injury, illness and even improving muscle performance, but for some people contrast water therapy must be used with caution to prevent scalding, freezing and other dangers associated with using water of varying temperatures. When you have a condition like diabetes that results in leg and foot problems, you must be wary of the water temperature, since extremely hot temperatures may burn you without you being aware of how hot the liquid actually is. In fact, if you suffer from any condition that causes the inability to judge water temperature, you should proceed with caution and carefully watch the thermometer, so you have a safe experience with hydrotherapy.

Warm liquid therapy should not be used by individuals with severe heart disease, incontinence or infection. If you suffer from hypertension, you should never use hot water immersion baths, saunas or other forms of hot water therapy for prolonged periods of time. Never submerge a body part or your entire body into water that exceeds 115 degrees Fahrenheit or 46 degrees Celsius. And always remember, a cool shower is the quickest way to reduce your body's temperature after a hot water treatment.

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