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Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Hydrotherapy


As a group of folks who spend a lot of time around bathtubs, it’ll come as no surprise that we at The Spa Bath Co. are also interested in the benefits of bathing. You’ll no doubt be aware of the benefits of taking a bath: de-stressing, improved circulation, and more – but what about more serious conditions? That’s where hydrotherapy comes in, and while this form of naturopathy usually requires more than just a whirlpool bath, it remains a fascinating therapeutic option with many potential benefits.

So, let’s dip a toe in the warm waters of hydrotherapy and see what we can learn.

What is hydrotherapy?

The term “hydrotherapy”, sometimes referred to as hydropathy, is actually quite broad in its definition. It’s far more than simply soaking in a tub, encompassing various techniques designed to reduce pain, stimulate blood circulation, and even alleviate the symptoms of certain diseases. Each of the therapeutic methods which fall under the definition leverage different properties of water in order to provide the benefits, including both temperature and water pressure – each of which offer different therapeutic gains. Modern hydrotherapy can take place in a number of settings including swimming pools (for larger scale physical therapy), dedicated immersion tanks, and, yes, even whirlpool baths in a home setting.

The origins of hydrotherapy

As we’ve talked about before here on the Whirlpool Bath blog, bathing dates back many centuries – and the same can be said for hydrotherapy. In fact, the use of water in therapeutic settings has been recorded in various civilizations including Greek, Egyptian, and Roman. As you’ll know, bathing saw something of a revival during the Victorian era, and it was at this point that the benefits of warm water became clear – especially in the treatment of muscular pain and swelling.

Hydrotherapy as a practice became established in the mid-1800s when facilities were opened by Joel Shew and Russell Thacher Trall – peaking with over 200 so-called “water cure” centres. In 1881, the British Medical Journal confirmed that hydrotherapy was useful for certain conditions based on the principles of thermodynamics (i.e. warm water). Moving into the modern era, hydrotherapy has become more of a niche practice, available as something of an alternative therapy – but one which is very effective for certain people. Because of the subjective nature of the therapy, studies of hydrotherapy’s efficacy remain a little sparse.

The benefits of hydrotherapy

Much like physical therapy, the benefits of hydrotherapy can differ radically from person to person and depend greatly on the particular condition being treated. That said, there are certain conditions for which hydrotherapy is a common therapeutic technique. One of the most common of these is the treatment of sports injuries and other musculoskeletal problems. The reason hydrotherapy seems to work well in such cases is two-fold: first, warm water encourages circulation, stimulating blood flow and reducing the swelling of bruised areas. And second, the actual resistance created by the water is very useful in rebuilding muscle following longer term physical injury. In fact, you’ve probably seen hydrotherapy in action as a physiotherapist walks the sufferer through a swimming pool slowly – it’s an excellent way to slowly increase the use of a previously injured muscle or muscle group.  

We hope you’ve enjoyed learning about the basics of hydrotherapy. Remember: if you’re worried about any health problems, and you think hydrotherapy might help, be sure to consult with a healthcare professional. Doctors always know best, after all!  

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