4 Benefits of Water Therapy

4 Benefits of Water Therapy

When a nearby toilet is flushed, old plumbing may turn a hot shower cold, quite the shrieking episode. However, beyond mild discomfort, it may not be such a bad thing. These 4 benefits of water therapy explore how you might be able to enhance your health with a simple hydro temperature change.

The Oxy-Effect: Feel Good Naturally

You may have heard about the controlled pharmaceutical substances called oxycodone and oxycontin. These are potent painkillers with highly addictive properties. However, the body produces its own natural painkiller compound called oxytocin.

Researchers at the Department of Physiology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala, Sweden studied this natural oxy-effect and how outside stimulation enhances it, particularly the warm temperature of a shower.

“Oxytocin levels increase in blood and CSF [cerebral spinal fluid] after various kinds of non-noxious sensory stimulation such as touch, light pressure and warm temperature in both female and male rats.”

So, if you’re feeling blue or have some aches and pains, a hot shower just may increase your natural oxytocin and set you right once again.

Diabetics: Reduce Your Glucose 

Hot tub therapy has been reported in the New England Journal of Medicine as an adjunct therapy for type 2 diabetics.

The research team, led by Dr. Philip L. Hooper from the McKee Medical Center in Loveland, Colorado found that a protocol of sitting in a hot tub for 30 minutes per day for 6 days straight reduced weight, improved mood and, most importantly, lowered blood sugar/glucose levels.

It is believed that the increased circulation enabled the body to use insulin more efficiently. If you have diabetes check with your doctor before trying hot tub therapy as it can be dangerous for those with neurological challenges.

Contrast Bathing for Muscle Soreness

Humans essentially come from water so maybe that is why it is easy for the body to embrace water therapy before succumbing to conventional medicine such as a pill for a headache. This is particularly true when participating in a physical therapy treatment called contrast bathing for muscle soreness.

Starting with cold water, a patient will submerge their affected body part in it for approximately 3 to 5 minutes. Then, immediately switch to hot water for the same time allotment. This contrast protocol is done in 5 steps: cold, hot, cold, hot, cold. Always end with cold and be careful not to make the water so hot you burn yourself.

The concept behind contrast bathing is that with the cold, circulation slows down and inflammation reduces. The hot water then creates vasodilation or rushed blood flow allowing for reparative oxygen/nutrition while at the same time toxic waste removal.

A study by researchers at the Department of Physiology, Australian Institute of Sport and published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (8/21/07) reported that,

“Contrast water therapy [CWT] was associated with a smaller reduction, and faster restoration, of strength and power measured by isometric force and jump squat production following DOMS [delayed onset muscle soreness]-inducing leg press exercise when compared to PAS [passive recovery]. Therefore, CWT seems to be effective in reducing and improving the recovery of functional deficiencies that result from DOMS, as opposed to passive recovery.”

Cold Water for Metabolism Enhancement

When you increase your metabolism you can enhance:

  • Body temperature
  • Weight loss
  • Nutrient absorption
  • Overall energy
  • Immune system function

Published in the European journal of applied physiology and occupational physiology (1996), researchers at The Department of Comparative Physiology, Faculty of Science, Charles University, Prague, found that,

“…the stress-inducing noninfectious stimuli, such as repeated cold water immersions, which increased metabolic rate due to shivering the elevated blood concentrations of catecholamines, activated the immune system…”

Cold water therapy should be approached carefully as it does shock the system. Those with a heart condition or other health challenge should consult with their physician before submerging in cold water for metabolism enhancement.

Sometimes all you need is a cold, hot (or both) shower or bath to ail your woes. These 4 benefits of water therapy are a good start at relieving your body and mind to make life a little less challenging.