Hydrotherapy is the use of water, either internally or externally, to promote natural health and reduce the effects of disease and pain.
Water can be used either hot or cold. When hot, water is used in a bath or steam room or compress or inhalation. Cold water in the form of ice is used to reduce inflammation and lessen pain.
Warm compresses (heat packs) expand blood vessels, which can temporarily increase circulation, help to relax muscles, and reduce pain. A hot tub or a jacuzzi bath with jets can relax muscles and reduce stress, and the jets can direct the hot water directly to the aching muscles. Inhaling steam (done over boiling water with a towel draped over the head) helps to reduce the discomfort of minor sore throats and colds. Warm water vapor from a sauna, hot shower, or “sweat lodge” can warm and moisten the nose and breathing passages.
Ice packs can be applied to inflamed joints or muscles to reduce the flow of blood to the area and reduce the swelling.
For tired feet, a cold foot bath is recommended. Contrast therapy, which is alternating hot and cold in a foot bath, is said to promote circulation in the legs, help varicose veins, insomnia, headache and high blood pressure.