A nice hot bath at the end of the day might be just the tonic. Even so, many believe that water has healing properties that go way beyond simply feeling relaxed and refreshed. Could a dip in the hydrotherapy pool work for you?
What is it?
A popular physical therapy on the complementary health scene, hydrotherapy is essentially about undertaking controlled exercises while immersed in water - hot or cold, depending on the ailment, and often shot through with bubbles. The aim is to stimulate the production of endorphines in the body - an anti-stress hormone which helps to relieve pain and tension. As water supports between 50 to 90% of your body weight during hydrotherapy exercise, as well as providing resistance to movement, it's particularly helpful if you're suffering from joint, muscular or bone problems.
How does it work?
Having taken your full medical history, either by asking you to fill in a questionnaire or referring to notes made by your doctor (GP), a trained hydrotherapist will explain what the first session involves. They'll also address any questions you may have about the nature of the therapy. Depending on your illness, condition or injury, your first session will take place inside a water pool (so pack your swimming gear). It may be a gentle introduction to hydrotherapy, or you could be asked to perform certain exercises in the water. Afterwards, you'll be advised as to how many more sessions you need before you begin to feel results.
What are the benefits?
Hydrotherapy is used to treat all kinds of ailments from aching joints to circulation problems, muscular stiffness, cramps and stress. It can play a central role in rehabilitation from surgical procedures or injuries that have caused mobility problems, such as broken limbs or spinal cord damage.
Where's the proof?
Controlled trials show that hydrotherapy reduces recovery time from muscular injuries by encouraging strength building. Much depends on the health of the individual and also the nature and length of treatment. So long as it's carried out by a trained practitioner, hydrotherapy is considered to be safe.
NHS Hydrotherapy is now available, in a limited capacity, while private treatment can begin from £35 per session. Talk to your doctor (GP) about NHS treatment, or ask them to recommend a private hydrotherapist in your area. Alternatively, check out the Complementary Health Information Service for a nationwide directory of practitioners.
If you're considering a complementary treatment or therapy for any medical condition, always consult your doctor (GP) first. This is to make sure it doesn't conflict with any existing course of treatment you may be taking, and also to check it won't have a negative impact on your health.
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