Hydrotherapy, the use of water to achieve health and wellbeing. Having been practiced for thousands of years to heal and ward off diseases, the science is today now picking up on the many potential benefits of hydrotherapy as an effective treatment for all different types of ailments.

As the name indicates, this method of therapeutic rejuvenation uses water for healing, restoration, and increased well-being. Hydrotherapy has been a treatment known for promoting health and wellness for thousands of years. The practice of restoring one’s body and spirit with water dates back to the Egyptians in 2000 BC. It was also written about by the famed Greek physician Hippocrates and was very common in ancient China and Japan. While the methods have evolved overtime, hydrotherapy has remained one of most effective ways to cleanse and strengthen the body, relieve pain, fend off ailments, and provide relaxation.

There are a wide variety of methods used today for hydrotherapy. These often involve mixtures of hot and cold water, which each affect the body differently. It is common for hydrotherapy to involve switching back and forth between temperatures to stimulate the body. Different pressures of water are also used to achieve the desired results of treatment. This article describes 7 potential health benefits of hydrotherapy and the type of hydrotherapy that is most suited for that benefit.

1. Increase blood flow in the body

Increasing blood flow in your body helps to fight infection. As circulation of your blood rises, white blood cells move through your body more quickly. This enables your immune system to work faster and more efficiently. Your natural healing processes become activated. This is also helpful in treating poor circulation.

Best method: Water jet massage

Portrait of beautiful woman relaxing in spa swimming pool

Warm or hot water jets gently activate the nerves in skin and muscles to increase your blood circulation. This calming massage makes your tissues more oxygenated and helps muscles to relax. The pressure of the jets can improve your flexibility, decrease recovery time for injury and illness, and heal injured tissues and muscles by increasing blood flow.

2. Reduce aches, pains, and sore muscles

Depending on the level of inflammation, both hot and cold water hydrotherapy can bring relief to aching muscles. If there is only minor discomfort, a warm soak will relax the muscles and relieve minor aches and pain. For more severe muscle pains, such as after vigorous exercise, cold water is more effective because it reduces the inflammation.

Best method: Ice baths

Young lady comes out from the ice hole after recreational swimming

This method is a classic hydrotherapy used by athletes. The coldness of the water reduces inflammation of the muscles, which provides relief from soreness, aches, and pains. This method of hydrotherapy has its own name, cryotherapy. Studies show bathing in cold water is most effective for muscle soreness 1-4 days after exercise.

3. Relieve joint stiffness and pain

Hydrotherapy can relieve joint stiffness by offering a way to strengthen muscles and exercise that is easy on the body. Exercising or swimming in water creates resistance, which makes muscles work harder, strengthening them. Tension is the joints is released as this happens and over time this leads to more flexibility.

Best method: Aquatic exercise

Woman is engaged aqua aerobics in water

Doing aerobic exercises in water changes the intensity of the workout. The buoyancy of water relieves stress on the joints and is wonderful for restoring elasticity in them. Exercises that may be too painful regularly can be done with more ease as the water supports your body. Studies show participants report feeling less joint pain and tenderness after routinely engaging in aquatic exercise.

4. Clearing up congestion

Hydrotherapy clears up congestion and strengthens your repository system by breaking up mucus or fluid in the lungs. The steam that rises off of hot water can help lessen the severity of breathing ailments such as asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema. As a result, airways in the sinuses, bronchus, and lungs become less restricted and congested. Hydrotherapy also can reduce the severity of allergens in the air on your respiratory system.

Best method: Sauna or aromatic steam treatment

cosy atmosphere in the sauna at a spa

The steam in a sauna will open up airways and make it easier to breathe. If you do not have access to a sauna, you can boil water and create a steam tent by placing a towel over yourself to inhale the stream. It is helpful to add essential oils such as peppermint, eucalyptus, tea tree or lemon to further boost the effects.

5. Relief from headaches and migraines

Tension headaches, which often lead to migraines, can be effectively relieved through hydrotherapy. Studies show those suffering from migraines had a significant decrease in symptoms when also treated with hydrotherapy. The cause of common headaches most often is incorrect neck posture, which leads to pressure on the spine. This discomfort is also alleviated by hydrotherapy, which calms the nerves on the neck.

Best method: Hot/cold water simultaneously

Water pouring from an earthenware pot into a luxurious aromatic foot soak

This method uses a mixture of hot and cold water to shift blood flow from your head towards your feet. It requires a towel that’s been dipped in cold, preferably ice water, and one of water as hot as you can handle. Place the towel on the back of your neck, while you soak your feet in the hot water. The contrast will make the blood circulate downward to relieve tension in your head.

6. Release toxins from body

Sweating is one of the most effective ways your body releases toxins. As you sweat, toxins that have accumulated in your fatty tissue, such as sodium and lactic acid are released. Additionally, warm water stimulates blood flow that helps to remove toxins stored in tissues as well.

Best method: Epsom salt bath

Epsom salts (Magnesium sulfate) in a rustic wooden scoop - relaxing bath concept

Epsom salt helps to pull out toxins, such as lactic acid, from muscles to promote relaxation. Sitting in a warm bath also promotes sweating, which is your body’s natural way of releasing toxins.  It is important to remember the most important hydrotherapy is always drinking enough water, so be sure to remain hydrated during your soak.

7. Boost your mood and alleviate depression

Hydrotherapy can improve your mood and even alleviate depression. Soothing warm baths, saunas, and hot tubs can aid in relaxation, which boost your feelings of well-being. Studies have also shown immersing oneself in cold water releases endorphins, which promote feelings of happiness and optimism.

Best method: Cold showers

shower head blue bathroom

Cold showers are a natural method used to relieve symptoms of depression. According to clinical trials, cold showers help to stimulate electoral impulses in the brain that jolt the nervous system. This leads to increased alertness, clarity, and energy levels.