Hydrotherapy! And how it can help you!

What exactly is Hydrotherapy and how can it help you? Hydrotherapy has been hailed as a new way of helping with many muscle/ back / and ligament problems. Is it really a new phenomenon and do the claims of helping with these ailments stand up to scrutiny? Read on to find out more! 

List of Contents

What is Hydrotherapy?

 

Hydrotherapy is the use of water to relieve discomfort and promote physical health. Using powerful jets of warm water and air, hot tubs massage the neck, shoulders, lumbar region, legs, and feet. As a result of the combination of immersion, heat, and hydromassage,  our blood circulation is greatly improved, any muscle tension is reduced, and we feel wonderfully relaxed and refreshed. 

It is this improved blood circulation that is key to the many benefits derived from Hydrotherapy. Improved blood circulation allows your body to “feed” red blood cells to all parts of our body –  ligaments, muscles, tendons. These red blood cells are the building blocks of the body and they repair damaged tissue, muscles, and nerve endings. As we age and our blood circulation diminishes it becomes harder for our body to send red blood cells to the areas where it is most needed in our body. As a result, older people can often suffer with mobility problems and stiff or sore joints. 

Do these claims stand up to scrutiny? As the Guardian Newspaper reports 

In 1994, researchers in France published a study in the Journal of Rheumatology to assess the effect of hydrotherapy on chronic lower back pain. Over three weeks one group of suffers was treated with medication, the other treated with both medication and hydrotherapy. Results showed that the patients receiving hydrotherapy showed significant improvement in flexibility and a noticeable reduction in pain intensity.

hydrotherapy - A father and son enjoy the benefits of Hydrotherapy together by sitting in a hot tub in their back garden

How can hydrotherapy help with my health?

 

When we are immersed in water our bodies can experience relief in a variety of ways.  Hydrotherapy can be beneficial for many physical and psychological ( i.e. anxiety) complaints, including

  • Back pain
  • Hip  pain or other joint replacements (before and after the operations)
  • Pain management and reduction 
  • High blood pressure, anxiety, and stress 
  • Decreased muscle and skin tone
  • Bad circulation
  • Muscle pain, inflammation, and soreness
  • Migraines
  • Muscle or ligament injuries; broken limbs
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Neurological conditions such as strokes or brain injuries
  • Rheumatoid arthritis, cerebral palsy, ankylosing spondylitis
  • Fibromyalgia
Steam rises from the waters of an ancient roman bath house - hydrotherapy has been practiced for thousands of years.

Is Hydrotherapy a new type of treatment?

The practice of hydrotherapy dates back to ancient Greece. The Greek physician Hippocrates used hydrotherapy or hydropathy – as he called it – as early as the first century BCE. Hydrotherapy was not confined to the Greeks. Ancient Chinese, Roman, and Egyptian civilizations used hydrotherapy. Indeed the Romans were known to build their special bath houses in every part of Europe which they conquered. The town of Bath in the UK  was built for this very purpose and its name reflects the fact that it was a place with many water spas

Hydrotherapy isn’t a new-fangled trend. It’s an ancient medicinal practice that is used today in modern physiotherapy and it has proven results in helping patients overcome joint, muscle, back problems. It’s also been to show to be highly effective at stimulating superior muscle recovery in athletes.  

How exactly does Hydrotherapy help to assist in the rehabilitation of musculoskeletal problems such as back aches, muscle sprains etc?

 

The obvious benefit of hydrotherapy is the reduced effect of gravity on your body. When you target parts of your body with warm water from jets, this compels blood to rush to this part of the body. You capillaries and veins expand in this region and  the muscles and ligaments within that area are enriched with red blood cells. These red blood cells are key to repairing your body.

When you stand in waist deep water you are only supporting 50% of your body weight. Once you move to neck deep water 90% of your body weight is supported. This means you can often perform exercises in water you can’t do on land due to either pain or weakness. Your range of motion is greatly increased.

Due to all of the above, Hydrotherapy is a great way to exercise weight-bearing joints such as your lower back, hips, knees and ankles. It allows each of these areas of your body to move with much less pain and a much greater range.  Something as simple as rotating your ankle might be impossible for you in normal circumstances yet in warm water you’ll be able to achieve this.

This in turn helps with any stiffness or limited movement you may have. It also reduces the compressive load if you have a lower back problem.

Water can provide resistance against your body moving. You can create resistance by forcing floatation devices into the water, or by moving through the water to create resistance. This works your muscles in a different way than when you workout on land and greatly improves your strength and mobility.

Hydrotherapy bath in a country setting

Is the temperature of the Water important for Hydrotherapy?

 

Hydrotherapy is performed in warm water. This has the benefit of relieving pain and improving flexibility. Just as you use a heat pack at home to help with pain and stiffness,  the warm water increases your body temperature, opens up your blood capillaries, and allows blood to reach all parts of your body.

The warm water also stimulates your muscles to rid them of lactic acid and thus allows them to heal better after you’ve been working out, or doing particularly strenuous physical activities at as part of your job.

What is Hydrostatic Pressure and how is it connected to Hydrotherapy?

Water creates hydrostatic pressure. The deeper you go in water the higher the pressure exerted on your body by the surrounding water. It is this  pressure that is responsible for scuba divers getting ‘the bends’ if they surface too fast from a deep dive. Even in 1-2 metres of water, hydrostatic pressure exists.

The benefit of hydrostatic pressure is that it assists circulation by helping your lymphatic system  return fluids  from your tissues back into your bloodstream. Your blood then moves around your body again and eventually through your kidneys. Your kidneys then cleans your blood. This process is essential for a fit and healthy body. 

It is this process of moving lymph ( a fluid rich in white blood cells) around our bodies  and back to our kidneys which helps our bodies to attack infections, bacteria, toxins within our bodies.

If you have any swelling in your body this is the process that helps get rid of it.

During hydrotherapy the gentle pressure of the water assists in reducing the swelling in those parts of the body submerged under water.   This pressure, in conjunction with the exercises you are doing, has a great impact on reducing swelling, ridding your bodies of toxins,  and allowing your muscles to heal quicker, thus  improving your overall well-being.

Doctor holds mock example of a human spine and points to some of the vertebrae

Can Hydrotherapy help with my back?

Hydrotherapy has many benefits and is used to treat a wide range of  back conditions including spinal, upper and lower back problems. It is also helpful following surgery, particularly after joint replacements and back surgery.

Hydrotherapy is an excellent treatment option for back pain since it reduces muscle tension, soothes aches, and improves range of motion and flexibility.

Hydrotherapy can also target painful muscle knots. The jets on specially designed Hot Tubs  work on contracted muscles, gently breaking them down, while the warm water soothes your aches and allows blood to enter the affected area.

A hot tub  with specially targeted jets placement can directly hit problem areas effectively.

Hydrotherapy benefits the healing process too. Since the heat boosts circulation, the injured area can get nutrients from our blood easier, allowing you to recover sooner.

Hydrotherapy helps by targeting neuromuscular trigger points, also known as “muscle knots.”

Muscle knots are localized areas throughout the back that:

  • Cause dull or sharp aches
  • Are sensitive to pressure
  • Feel hard or lumpy

Neuromuscular trigger points are common causes of back pain, resulting from repetitive strain or muscle injury.

Despite being called a “knot,” these points are believed to be an area of tight, contracted muscle. This cuts off blood supply to the area, which causes more irritation. Trigger points can also create “referred pain,” meaning they can send pain to other parts of the body.

Unlocking trigger points requires a therapeutic approach. Typically, this involves applying pressure until the muscle relaxes. A trained massage therapist can use myofascial release techniques. A hydrotherapy tub can also provide this benefit at home as the water jets will massage the trigger points causing your pain, gently pushing blood into the affected area. This releases pain and tension from the problem area and allows you to be reinvigorated.

Can Hydrotherapy help with Arthritis?

 

A number of scientific studies have shown that hydrotherapy can improve strength and general fitness in people suffering from various types of arthritis. Your strength and flexibility can be built up slowly and gradually by tailoring the exercises to your individual needs.

You may feel as though you can do more exercise than usual with the extra support the water provides, so be careful not to overdo it. It is natural to feel tired after a treatment involving exercise and warm water. Hydrotherapy is generally one of the most effective treatments for arthritis and back pain.

Guy & girl work out together. They'll use hydrotherapy to heal later.

Can hydrotherapy help an athlete with training?

Hydrotherapy is the ultimate training and recovery tool. It’s a low impact workout that yields high impact results with less muscle strain, joint stress, muscle fatigue and injury.

The water helps to warm your muscles and thus aids their range of motion while sending red blood cells into each muscle. Moving against the resistance caused by the water is an excellent way to workout. The work done in walking in water is ten times that of walking normally on dry land. Yet the strain on our muscles and ligaments is much less.

Hydrotherapy is also a key part of an athlete’s post workout routine. After intense work our body produces lactic acid within our muscles. The massaging effects of Hydrotherapy pushes this lactic acid from our muscles and allows red blood cells to thrive in that area. The specially positioned jets in a Hot Tub can massage each muscle group and aid the healing of these muscles.

A key component to training well is how you recover from each session. Hydrotherapy can both increase how well you train and also play a major role in your recovery process.

Can Hydrotherapy aid my Immune System?

 

Due an increase in blood flow and increased circulation of white blood cells brought about by the warm water of hydrotherapy a substance called lymph is able to flow more freely through your body. Lymph carries white blood cells to and from all parts of your body. These white blood cells fight infections and rid our bodies or toxins. 

By increasing the flow of lymph from our bodies we are ridding ourselves of toxins and infections and thus  strengthening our  immune system and combating colds, infections etc

 

Can Hydrotherapy Relieve Stress / Anxiety?

 

Hydrotherapy has been shown to both relieve stress and tension. Many people  experience a reduction in blood pressure and an intense feeling of relaxation after using a hot tub.

Hot Tubs with specially programmed massage settings can target and soothe key muscle groups. Also the very fact of being near weightless in water acts as a very strong aid to relaxation.  Additionally,  after a hydrotherapy session many endorphins are released, which are natural stress relievers.

woman holds back during doctor consultation. Doctor recommends hydrotherapy.

Can Hydrotherapy help me after a surgery?

 

Yes, Hydrotherapy can be helpful for a number of reasons for those recovering from surgery.  Firstly, the water supports damaged joints, ligaments and muscles, allowing mobility that may not be possible on land.

Warm water can also provide pain relief and ease swelling. In addition, the water provides resistance, which can help to strengthen muscles after surgery.

Many people  find hydrotherapy sessions to be very enjoyable and relaxing, this positivity can also lead to a quicker recovery.

In Conclusion

Hydrotherapy is a well-documented way to manage and improve back, ligament and muscle issues. 

It is also a great way to build up strength and improve muscle development in all areas of the body. 

It offers wonderful therapeutic solutions for a variety of physical aliments and it has also been shown to increase our mood and release tension and anxiety from our bodies. 

Check out our top of the range Passion Spa Hot Tubs which all come with the very best in patented massage jets. We believe that they’re  the best Hot Tubs in Ireland.  Start your journey to being a healthy and happy you today. 

Check out some more of our Blog Posts

ARC House New Centre Officially Opens
ARC HOUSE OPEN NEW CENTRE IN CORK​ This weekend saw...
Partnership with the Crann Centre!
Ireland's First Fully Inclusive Playground - Partnership with the Crann...
Hydrotherapy – How it can help you
Hydrotherapy! And how it can help you! What exactly is...