The Irresistible Health Benefits of Spas
The Romans did it regularly and so did the Egyptians, Greeks, Japanese and Chinese. In fact, hydrotherapy is one of the oldest curative practices known to man and forms the basis of many traditional healing systems.
Hydrotherapy is the use of hot and cold water to treat illness, control pain and induce deep relaxation. In the 19th century, Britain had no fewer than 32 spa towns. These towns were situated around mineral springs and offered hydrotherapy, some of which were naturally heated. Hydrotherapy is now enjoying a renaissance with modern methods mirroring those used traditionally and for good reasons – hydrotherapy has effective and proven health benefits.
Stiff joints, aching muscles and arthritic conditions all respond well to a soak in warm water as do stress related conditions such as insomnia, depression and anxiety. Warm water at 37 – 39 degrees has a calming effect on the nervous system and reduces pain by relaxing tight muscles. Endorphins, our natural pain killers, are also released giving a sense of wellbeing and relaxation.
Relaxation is vital for wellbeing. When we are tense our breathing becomes shallow which gives rise to many problems. Shallow breathing means that insufficient oxygen is available. When muscles are deprived of oxygen they don’t function optimally so we experience tension, which causes tiredness, headaches, stiffness, and general aches and pains. Lack of oxygen also affects our ability to think clearly and makes the heart work harder than it needs to.
Hydrotherapy relaxes us, increasing blood circulation which improves the flow of the body’s defensive white blood cells, neutralising bacteria and viruses. Together with increased endorphin production it strengthens the immune system, reduces inflammation and helps to heal distressed tissue.
Detoxification is also enhanced as our body’s own process of waste elimination is increased through boosted circulation. This is one of the reasons that drinking enough water is vital during and after a session.
For hydrotherapy that is generally relaxing and is not targeting specific conditions, choose thermal options such as hydrotherapy pool, sauna, steam or laconicum followed by any cool option such as placing crushed ice on the body or SenSpa’s blizzard showers.
It does not matter in which order you experience them as long as they are hot or warm followed by cold or cool and make sure you keep hydrated. If you have unmedicated high blood pressure, a heart condition or a lymphatic disorder, check with your doctor before using hydrotherapy. Never have hydrotherapy after a heavy meal, after alcohol or if there is inflammation or swelling.
Try these top tips…
For relaxation at home, run a warm bath at around 38-40 degrees, add some fresh herbs in a muslin bag such as rosemary or lavender, or add your favourite essential oil. Soak for 10-15 minutes. Follow with a cold shower. This will tone the body and boost circulation.
To relieve a headache, fill a bucket with comfortably hot water to ankle height. Place your feet in it and sit for a few minutes. This opens the superficial blood vessels in the feet which relieves blood pressure around the head.