Heard of hydrotherapy? Also known as water therapy, it can be a really amazing, natural way to treat many common ailments- effective for both the body and the mind. Not sure what it is, or whether it’s right for you? We’ve put together some of the main benefits of water therapy to help you decide.
What is water therapy?
First and foremost what exactly is water therapy? Put simply, its a method of therapy that involves using water to treat a range of symptoms within the body. But more than that, there’s a whole school of thought that insists simply being by the water can have a hugely positive impact on mental health too. There’s something about the sensation of water gently lapping- it soothes the body, but it can calm the mind too.
Water therapy doesn’t always require a lot of expensive equipment either, nor do you necessarily need to jet off to a beautiful beach in paradise (although who are we to stop you?!). Water therapy can be as simple as taking a warm bath with essential oils, or a wild water swim perhaps. Let’s take a look at the various types of water therapy you can try:
Any type of exercise you take part in or around water can be classed as water therapy. So whether it’s a gentle swim or 40 lengths of butterfly stroke- both are equally as beneficial to both your physical and emotional well-being.
And yes, aquatic exercise can be done even if you’re on your period. Our period proof swimwear is designed to absorb your flow so that you don’t need to miss out on any activity just because of your period.
We do recommend our period swimwear is best for a light to medium flow though, so if you’re moving a lot (aqua Zumba, anyone?) then it might be a good idea to use a menstrual cup as a backup, especially on heavy flow days.
Warm water baths
Never underestimate the power of taking a warm bath! When you’re feeling stressed or you’re on your period and the cramps are intense- take a bath. Add a few drops of essential oil (we love lavender to calm, and rose geranium to boost mood) and just relax.
The sensation of the warm water against your skin will not only soothe muscle cramps and aches, but it will help you to unwind emotionally too.
One for the new mums perhaps, or if you’re suffering from piles (another topic we don’t talk about enough), then listen up. A sitz bath is a warm or lukewarm shallow bath that you sit in to relieve pain or discomfort in your perineal area. The idea is to relax and soften the muscles to relive pain and reduce spasms.
During the postpartum period, a sitz bath can be hugely beneficial, and can help to reduce pain and swelling. You do not need to add anything to the water- plain water only is best for healing and preventing infections.
Who doesn’t love a good sauna on a spa day? Yes, saunas can be classed as water therapy too- hooray! There are loads of studies explaining the benefits too, like this one which looked into saunas and their effect on blood pressure, pulmonary disease, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, headaches and more.
Saunas have also been found to drastically reduce stress levels too, with this report concluding that just one single sauna session is enough to alleviate symptoms. What are you waiting for?!
Now, hear us out. Cold water immersion therapy is a thing, and it actually has some really cool benefits too, if you’ll excuse the pun.
This study found that it can be a great way to help the body recover from exercise and strain, and is able to positively impact mental wellbeing too.
Benefits of water therapy
There are many benefits of water therapy, and they’re not just physical. As previously mentioned, being in the water can also do wonders for your emotional state, and sometimes just being near water can lift your mood. This 2011 study looked into so-called ‘Blue Therapy’, and found that blue space can have a profound effect on health and wellbeing.
In his book Blue Mind, marine biologist Dr. Wallace Nichols talks about the “numerous cognitive and emotional benefits that we derive every time we spend time by water, in water or underwater,” and concludes that “proximity to water will increase the levels of certain “feel-good” hormones such as dopamine and oxytocin within the human brain. At the same time, levels of the stress hormone cortisol drop, so relaxation happens.”
It’s clear to see that water therapy can be pretty powerful for the mind, so what are the physical benefits you might experience? Here are just a few:
- Easing depression
- Soothing headaches
- Easing joint problems
- Easing muscle pain, aches and spasms
- Reducing symptoms of stress
- Easing period cramps
- Elevating mood
Cold water vs hot water
Ok, so we know that water therapy is good for us- but do we want hot water or cold water? Before you dismiss the latter, you might be interested to know that cold water has plenty of benefits too, such as easing pain, reducing inflammation, loosening muscles and easing soreness, boosting the immune system and helping physical recovery after exercise.
Wild water swimming can be a great introduction to cold water therapy- or maybe just your local pool, if it’s a cold day! Either way, we think you might be pleasantly surprised if you gave it a go.
Warm water will always be more enticing to the majority though, and luckily there are plenty of benefits to a higher temperature too. Some of them include easing pain, improving blood flow in the body, relaxing aching muscles and muscle spasms, flushing out toxins and relieving constipation.
Water therapy for period pain
So can you use water therapy to treat period pain? Yes, yes, YES! We all know how effective a warm bath or a hot water bottle can be for period cramps, but there are lots of other benefits that water therapy can bring to the table during your cycle too.
This study looked at the effects of aquatic exercise on period pain and found that it helped to decrease symptoms. Similarly, this study found that water based exercises can help to ease PMS symptoms too.
According to this article, cold water immersion therapy can be a fantastic way to ease period cramps and reduce inflammation- stating that it can “provide positive effects on menstrual cycles by helping to regulate hormones and reduce physical discomfort associated with PMS symptoms like cramps and fatigue. Additionally, combining this type of holistic approach with a regular exercise routine or yoga poses along with a healthy diet can result in further benefits for overall health and well-being during menstrual cycles.”
Does Water Help with Period Cramps?
Swimming is a great way to ease period cramps as the effects of being in the water helps to relax muscles and soothe spasms. The physical act of swimming also boosts endorphins, the body’s natural pain killers- plus simply being by the water is known to have a huge impact on emotional wellbeing too.
Does warm water help in your menstrual cycle?
Warm water is known to relax and soothe the muscles and to improve blood flow in the body too, which can combat cramps and headaches. That said, cold water immersion therapy is also known to help with period cramps, by reducing inflammation too.
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