I am interested in finding information on the benefits of hot/cold hydrotherapy techniques.
Hydrotherapy is defined as the external use of water for treating injury and illness. Since the human body takes its form within a watery environment, it should not be surprising that contact with water is conducive to recovery (healing).
HOW HYDROTHERAPY WORKS:
Being warm blooded, the human body benefits from contact with cool water; briefly applied, the water acts as a stimulant, while extended application has a calming effect. Contrasting hot and cold water is also used and occasionally, longer hot applications. Hot hydrotherapies are versatile in that they can be anti-inflammatory when placed in opposition to an injury.
COLD THERAPY BENEFITS:
- Cold water limits bleeding in the easily damaged small blood vessals. Although ruptured capillaries constrict spontaneously, cold helps to restrict pressure from nearby vessals by reducing blood flow. This is useful since the walls of blood vessals instantly begin to repair after being damaged.
- Cold water reduces the pain of pressure or inflammation. The peripheral nerve endings are almost immediately desensitized by the application of cold. Hot water must never be used on an injury, since it would encourage bleeding.
- Cold water encourages elimination by relaxing the skin. Even if debris is deposited deep within a wound, it will be pushed up by the deeper layers of the skin as long as the surface is kept moist.
HOT THERAPY BENEFITS:
- Hot water is able to redirect the flow of blood from congested area. Applying the heat to the uninjured side attracts the blood and reduces pressure towards the injury.
- Hot water is able to reassuring in the later stages of first aid. While warm water is relaxing generally applied heat is CONTRAINDICATED within 24 hours of injury. A short warm bath thereafter eases muscle tension and may assist sleep.
- The most important aspect is relative temperature: “hot” need only to be above blood heat and it is unnecessary to add ice to produce “cold.”
The method of application depends on the type of tissue recovery needed. Use the mentioned benefits/guidelines to apply to your individual clients. For more information, seek research on hydrotherapy that is usually found in physical therapy, athletic training and naturopathic literature.