Treatment techniques in hydrotherapy
Hot baths are used to ease muscle and joint pains and inflammatin. Also, warm or hot baths, with the addition of various substances such as seaweed extract to the water, may be used to help the healing of some skin conditions or minor wounds. After childbirth, frequent bathing in warm water to which a mild antiseptic has been added is recommended to heal skin tears.
Most people know the relaxing benefits of a hot bath. A bath with the temperature between 36.5ºCand 40ºC (98ºF and 104ºF) is very useful as a means of muscle relaxation. To begin with, five minutes immersion in a bath of this temperature is enough. This can be stepped up to ten minutes a day, as along as no feelings of weakness or dizziness arise. It is important to realize that a brief hot bath has quite a different effect from a long one.
There is nothing to be gained by prolonging a hot bath in the hope of increasing the benefit. Immersion in hot water acts not only on the surface nerves but also on the autonomic nervous system (which is normally outside our control), as well as the hormone-producing glands, particularly the adrenals, which become less active. A hot bath is sedative, but a hot bath that is prolonged in to a long soak has quite the opposite effect.
Cold baths are used to improve blood flow to internal tissues and organs and to reduce swellings. The person may sit for a moment in shallow cold water with additional water being splashed onto exposed skin. An inflamed, painful part may be immersed in cold water to reduce swelling. The person is not allowed to become chilled, and this form of treatment is best suited for those able to dry themselves rapidly with a warm towel. It is not a advisable for people with serious conditions or for the elderly or very young.