Hydrotherapy, formerly called hydropathy (or “water cure”), is a branch of alternative medicine that involves the use of water for pain relief and treatment. This ancient form of healing dates back to Ancient Greece.
Both hot and cold have their respective benefits. Heat can speed up the healing process because the blood circulation is better and no longer flowing through constricted vessels. Cold therapy may also speed up healing while reducing swelling and inflammation.
While raising your body’s temperature in a hot environment, the increased blood flow to the skin and muscles activates a state of unwinding, peacefulness, and introspection. The act of immersing yourself in ice-cold water immediately diverts your attention to your physical state. Acutely aware of the bracing sensation on the skin, you must concentrate on giving in to the intense frigidity. There’s a blood pressure shift, stimulating blood flow and forcing your heart to pump efficiently.
By the time you reach the moment of rest to stabilize your body, it’s fully engaged in the benefits of the hydrotherapy experience: flushing toxins, relaxing the muscles, and resetting the brain. When you feel ready to return to the heat, you find yourself looking forward to repeating the sequence.
After a few cycles, your body feels energized and calmed, while your spirit finds inner peace.
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Experience a source of heat, such as a sauna, hot tub, or steam room for 10-20 min.
· In this step your body is storing heat.
· Pores are dilating, your body sweats, and you eliminate toxins.
Immediately expose your body to cold water, or ice for at least 30 sec (ideally longer).
· Full immersion in the cold water is needed for as long as you can to experience the benefits.
· The shift from hot to cold produces a thermal shock, releasing adrenaline.
Relax near to your hot and cold temperature sources. You may want to sit outside on our tranquil patio or in one of our heated loungers.
· This period allows your elevated heart rate to settle.
· Spend 10-15 min before repeating the cycle.
The process of a contrast bath is a form of hydrotherapy that involves repeatedly alternating between hot and cold. This gets done at a specific rate, temperature, and time. Soaking in cold water causes the capillaries, or small blood vessels, in your body to decrease in size and the opposite happens when soaking in hot water, causing your capillaries to open up. This rapid contrast in temperature causes the blood vessels to pulse or pump which increases circulation into tissues throughout your body and to .
The increase in blood flow leads to oxygenation of blood (improving the healing process). It may also improve the transport of waste products (solving edema). More oxygenation occurs due to the hot water. Hot water is thought by some researchers to cause your hemoglobin (a protein in your blood involved in transporting oxygen) to get oxygen more efficiently into your tissues.
Alternating between hot and cold water temperatures has numerous benefits, and many of them are backed by science. At its most basic level, hydrotherapy can help relieve stress and assist people to relax and let go of worry. Hydrotherapy also reduces aches and pains including sore muscles, and joint stiffness while boosting your immune system.
The Vagus nerve is actually a bundle of nerves leading from the gut through the heart and to the brain. It’s the longest cranial nerve and has communication with every organ. It’s main function is to power the parasympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system plays a role in regulating our heart rate, sexual arousal, and gastrointestinal activity. The Vagus nerve also works tirelessly to control inflammation. It alerts the brain to release neurotransmitters when inflammatory proteins called cytokines are present. These neurotransmitters help the body repair then reduce inflammation.
Another function of the Vagus nerve is to trigger the release of acetylcholine which controls muscles, dilates blood vessels, and slows down our heart rate. It is this very nerve that is stimulated during deep diaphragm breathing to help regulate our breath and heart rate.
Cold Plunges and the Vagus Nerve
Cold plunges are tough at first, but they can greatly improve the function of our Vagus nerve. How? Because the initial shock of the cold water will make you take a short sharp breath in, and you will have an initial reaction to want to get out of there or to tense your muscles. As you deliberately take a long slow exhale, and relax your muscles, you start to adjust to the cold. When this happens, the sympathetic nervous system slows down, and the parasympathetic system takes over, directly affecting the Vagus nerve. It’s important to keep your breath steady when being exposed to the cold water to keep the parasympathetic system working. This is difficult to do however with practice what you will notice is that other neurochemicals will also be released such as endorphins that will have a lasting positive impact. You don’t have to plunge for very long. Thirty seconds to 1 minute is ample enough time.
Our hydrospa experience is a great practice for those looking to boost overall health and mood or for those who need to recover from a hard workout or injury. Bathing coaches are onsite to help guide you through the process and maximize your wellness benefits. Enjoy a blast of energy, while boosting blood flow and flushing out toxins at the same time. We welcome you to your wellness journey!