Saturday, March 25, 2017

How Can Hydrotherapy Help Us?

Hydrotherapy or “water therapy” is a healing art which goes back thousands of years in recorded history. Most of the major civilizations have practiced some form of water therapy. There are many proven scientific benefits of using water as a therapy.

Therapy spas have been used for many decades around the world with amazing benefits. The M. E. D. therapy spa provides warm water with a depth of about 2 feet with no seating obstructions, and should be at least 5 to 6 feet in diameter. There are also 1 inch massage jets to further relax the muscles and joints with the percussion effect from the water coming out of the jets. Bath tubs and whirlpools are not deep enough, and not wide enough to provide the benefits of a M. E. D. Spa. There are 3 main benefits at work in a M. E. D. Therapy Spa. One is Massage. The second is Exercise. And the third is Decompression, which is why it is called a M. E. D. Spa. 

The heat from the water penetrates into the body very quickly. Water temperature is usually between 100 degrees and 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Water transmits heat much faster than air, and a person’s body core temperature elevates much faster than it would in a sauna. This is interesting because the air temperature in a sauna is at least 120 degrees Fahrenheit, and often goes much higher especially if steam is introduced into the sauna room. Many of the same benefits of detoxifying and cleansing that are achieved in sauna cleansing can be achieved in a Therapy Spa.

Hydrotherapy and Sauna Cleansing are the two best ways to quickly cleanse the lymph fluid and blood in the body. By drinking pure water, and then experiencing total body perspiration from the lymph fluid, the whole body is detoxified internally. By replacing toxic fluid with pure water, has been compared to an “oil change” in a vehicle. Some people use vigorous exercise or sports to achieve a high level of perspiration, but it is not normally total body perspiration, and even more importantly exercise and sports can produce high levels of lactic acid because of muscles metabolizing nutrients to produce energy. As a result, the body can become more acidic and less alkaline. The advantage of hydrotherapy is that a high level of total body perspiration can be achieved to cleanse the body and make it more alkaline, without producing a high level of lactic acid.

The 20 Functional movements feature 8 Upper Body movements, 4 Core or Abdominal movements, and 8 Lower Body movements. Incorporating these movements in a Therapy Spa will create a unique experience because of the buoyancy of the water, and also the resistance that the water provides. People can do a cardiovascular workout, a strength workout, and a stretching workout in the Therapy Spa. 

The buoyancy that is achieved in 2 feet of water depth is one of the key benefits of using a Therapy Spa. People can lose about 75% or more of their body weight in 2 feet of warm water. That means a 200 pound person only weighs about 50 pounds in a Therapy Spa. In the space station astronauts are about 2 inches taller because of the absence of gravity. It doesn’t mean their bones are getting longer, but the spaces between the bones are getting bigger. There are 26 vertebrae in the spine, and there is a fluid cushion called a “disc” between each one. By relaxing the back muscles, tendons and ligaments, the space between each vertebrae increases by up to 1/16 of an inch. This can translate into an inch and a half of spinal decompression, which allows the discs to rehydrate with fluid. The buoyancy or weightlessness achieved in a Therapy Spa provides a wonderful therapy for all the 400+ muscles and 200+ joints of the body. The Therapy Spa has no permanent seating to obstruct movement, so a person can perform the 20 Functional Movements for exercise and decompression. Some people will measure 1 to 2 inches taller while they are in a Therapy Spa because of the total body decompression!

Tight muscles restrict nerve impulses, and interfere with blood flow and lymph flow. Compressing a garden hose, or putting a kink in it will interfere with the flow of water through the hose. This is a good example of what tight muscles can do to the nerve impulses, blood flow and lymph flow throughout the body. This sabotages the two main body functions which are the absorption of nutrients into the cells of the body, and the elimination of waste products from the cells of the body. The massage from the 1 inch percussion jets is an important benefit of using a Therapy Spa. The deep muscle percussion will penetrate into the muscles and joints making the body more flexible and limber. When the muscles are relaxed the nervous system relaxes, and the blood vessels are not restricted, and the lymph vessels are not restricted. This enhances the two main body functions. Remember, healthy cells equal a healthy body.

An important consideration with a Therapy Spa is to use a natural water treatment program. The skin is a membrane, so when you are soaking in the water, the pores are open, and you don’t want to be soaking in a “chemical soup”. A public hot tub, or public swimming pool will have higher concentrations of chemicals. This is not recommended because the goal is to detoxify the body, not to add more toxins to it. Natural water treatment is healthy for the users, and will help to protect your Therapy Spa. It is also simpler, and less expensive than chemicals.

A quality Therapy Spa benefits all 12 systems in the body. Here are some of the benefits for 8 of the systems in the body.

1) Circulatory System: Immersing the body in heated water dilates blood vessels and increases circulation bringing fresh, oxygen-rich, nutrient-rich blood to all the glands, organs and parts of the body. The 20 Functional Movements are also a good cardiovascular workout.

2) Digestive System: All of the internal organs are almost weightless, because of the buoyancy created by the water depth. This eliminates the downward pressure caused by gravity on the digestive track, so it can function better.

3) Immune System: Heating the body core temperature creates an artificial fever in the body to improve immunity to diseases and other ailments. Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine taught that if you overheat the body you can prevent and cure many diseases.

4) Lymphatic System: Excellent for detoxification. Perspiration is increased when the body is submersed in hot water. This effectively cleanses the lymph fluid and lymph glands. Drinking pure water and flushing out fluid through the skin will bypass the kidneys, and help cleanse the trillions of cells in the body.

5) Muscular System: There is no quicker way to relax, rejuvenate and strengthen all of the 400+ muscles and 200+ joints in the body than with massage, exercise and decompression.

6) Nervous System: Warm water and massage reduces stress and fatigue and is considered to be one of the best remedies for frazzled nerves! Hydrotherapy dramatically improves sleep patterns. The electrical communications within the nervous system are enhanced and kept healthy by the decompression of the muscular and skeletal systems.
7) Respiratory System: The penetrating heat helps to loosen congestion and mucus, making breathing easier. It takes the downward pressure of gravity off the lungs, and helps to remove excess fluid through perspiration. The 20 Functional Movements are a good workout for the respiratory system.

8) Skeletal System: Water is an excellent medium with which to transmit heat. Many people who suffer from joint pain, pinched nerves, sciatica, herniated and ruptured discs, and other knee, hip, back, shoulder, and neck concerns find almost instant relief while soaking in warm, deep water.

- Written By: Philip Legge RNC, CH, CDMT

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