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Understanding how water, in all forms, promotes healing

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Swim spas are one of the fastest growing products the industry has brought to market as they are ideal for hydrotherapy and aquatic exercise.

Swim spas are one of the fastest growing products the industry has brought to market as they are ideal for hydrotherapy and aquatic exercise. These spas are available in a variety of sizes and configurations, and are perfect for many forms of aquatic-based therapy programs. Most units range between 3.6 to 6.1 m (12 to 20 ft) in length and 0.9 to 1.5 m (3 to 5 ft) in depth.
As their name suggests, swim spas allow bathers to swim-in-place against a current of water that is created at one end of the unit. Some models are well-suited for aquatic exercise and Pilates as they include ballet bars, and other systems that allow the addition of exercise equipment (e.g. resistance stretch cords). These spas are great for those consumers looking to add a water-based health regimen to their lifestyle.

Some swim spa models are well-suited for aquatic exercise and Pilates as they allow the addition of exercise equipment such as resistance stretch cords.


Contrast baths

Contrast baths are also known as ‘hot/cold immersion therapy.’ These baths involve using temperature differentiation as a form of treatment where a limb—or the entire body—is immersed in ice water followed by immediate immersion in warm water. This procedure is repeated several times, alternating between hot and cold.

Contrast bathing can be used to reduce swelling around injuries or to aid recovery from exercise by significantly improving muscle recovery by reducing the levels of blood lactate concentration. For any injury with palpable swelling and heat as well as visible redness (e.g. a strain or sprain), contrast baths are not advisable during the acute inflammation stage, which begins at the time of injury and lasts for approximately 72 hours.

Sauna baths

There are many different types of saunas. Most are made from wood and can be heated using different technologies. Conventional saunas may be electric or wood-fired and usually include rocks, where bathers can apply water to create steam.

In a typical Finnish sauna, the temperature of the air, room, and benches consistently remain above dew point (the temperature at which air cannot hold all the moisture), and therefore, remain dry even when water vaporizes after being poured over the hot stones. In contrast, body temperature remains below dew point (approximately 38 C [100.4 F]), which allows water to condense on the bather’s skin. This process releases heat and makes the steam feel hot. This also allows air temperatures, which could boil water, to be tolerated and even enjoyed for longer periods of time.

Steam baths

Although both saunas and steam baths make bathers sweat, the latter operate quite differently. For example, steam rooms contain extremely moist air and high humidity levels, while saunas have low humidity levels. Steam rooms also do not typically get as hot as saunas during the therapy process.

Despite these fundamental differences, steam rooms produce similar health benefits and are a popular feature both at day spas and at home. Many bath manufacturers have designed steam showers that can provide homeowners with a spa-like experience. These baths provide many benefits, including increased circulation, oxygenation, and detoxification. The humidity in a steam bath environment offers skin moisturizing benefits, which help keep the skin clearer and healthier as well as relieve many respiratory conditions and symptoms, making it easier to breathe by dislodging phlegm and allergens from nasal and throat passages. It also reduces asthma and its recurring symptoms, while bronchitis, hoarseness of the throat, and coughs are also known to improve after a steam bath.

Hot and cold compression therapy

Hot and cold compress therapies are two of the most common forms of external hydrotherapy. Both methods can be performed easily in residential settings and provide effective results.

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Once the body reacts to stimuli such as water pressure, hot and cold temperatures, protracted application of heat, and the general sensation of water, the nerves carry what is felt by the skin deeper into the body.

Cold therapy is probably the most common; ice and compression are considered the universal medical procedure for many injuries (e.g. sprains, strains) to control swelling, inflammation, and pain by constricting blood vessels and slowing down cell metabolism. This lowers the need for oxygen and nutrients, and slows the rate of cell death, and the resulting excess build-up of blood and fluid (i.e. inflammation).

Ice baths are another variation of cold compression therapy. This is a popular practice with professional athletes to help them recover from the extreme efforts of today’s modern sports.

On the other hand, hot compression therapy is used to treat arthritis, muscle spasms, sprains/strains, and even cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. Examples of superficial heat therapies include infrared heat, hot packs, paraffin wax baths, and hydrotherapy (i.e. hot tubs and hot water immersion). Hot compression therapy increases circulation and causes connective tissue to become more flexible. It also promotes a transient reduction in joint stiffness, pain, and muscle spasms.

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