Hydrotherapy, the use of water in different forms and temperatures for various health treatments, is probably as old as time. In the field of natural medicine, hydrotherapy is one of the basic and most widely used methods of treatment. Also known as water therapy, aquatic therapy, pool therapy, and balneotherapy, cold spa therapy has multiple benefits for the mind and body. Hydrotherapy uses water in several different forms (water, ice, steam) for health promotion and the treatment of various diseases, using different water temperatures, pressure, duration, and sites. Hydrotherapy is a naturopathic treatment modality used in many ancient cultures including India, Egypt, China, the Middle East, and Japan, to name just a few.
How does hydrotherapy, and specifically cold spa therapy, work, and what exactly are the health benefits? The mechanics behind using cold water for physical therapy and healing is simple to understand. The use of ice baths after a practice or game, especially if an athlete has suffered an injury, has been around a long time in the professional sports arena. According to the top strength coaches who work with pro athletes, soaking in a tub full of ice can make a significant difference in the way your body recovers after a hard workout or immediately after an injury.
According to an article published in Men’s Fitness, ‘After a workout, your body needs to “repair” itself to prepare for the next training session. It does so with the help of blood vessels that bring oxygen to your muscle tissue while removing waste products of exercise — the most common being lactic acid. Too much lactic acid build-up can cause your muscles to function poorly and will often lead to fatigue. An ice bath will immediately reduce swelling while flushing lactic acid out of your body. When you sit in an ice bath — or when you rub a cup of ice on the muscles you just trained — the cold causes your blood vessels to tighten. This helps drain the lactic acid out of your tired muscles. When you get out of the bath, your muscle tissue warms back up, causing a return of oxygenated blood to help your muscles recover.’
Anne Bramham, founder of the American Spa Therapy Education & Certification Council, which trains spa industry providers in the physiology and science of spa therapies, states that “cold water is a stimulus”, and “The use of all hydrotherapy is to manipulate circulation to improve our quality of life.”
In a study published in the North American Journal of Medical Sciences on Scientific Evidence-Based Effects of Hydrotherapy on Various Systems of the Body, ‘Superficial cold application may cause physiologic reactions such as decrease in local metabolic function, local edema, nerve conduction velocity (NCV), muscle spasm, and increase in local anesthetic effects.’ The study also revealed, ‘Regular winter swimming significantly decreased tension, fatigue, memory, and mood negative state points with the duration of swimming period; significantly increased vigor-activity scores; relieved pain who suffered from rheumatism, fibromyalgia, or asthma; and improved general well-being in swimmers.’ The study also noted increased circulation and improvement in cardiac function were obtained with a program of regular cold spa therapy.
Because immersion in icy water forces your body to rev up its core temperature to maintain a stable 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, which initiates a calorie burn, cold spa therapy can also help increase your metabolic rate, which will boost weight loss efforts.
With benefits like reducing inflammation, muscle spasms, and pain, stimulating your body’s natural anesthetic abilities, relieving tension and fatigue, improving memory, uplifting your mood, aiding in weight loss efforts, and increasing your overall well-being, having your own cold plunge pool or cold spa is a great way to get the benefits of cold water therapy every day. At Diamond Spas, we design and manufacture elegant stainless steel and copper spas, pools, tubs, and water features for our clients. Call us today at (800) 951-7727 to see how Diamond Spas can help you create the custom cold plunge pool or cold water spa of your dreams, and start enjoying the health benefits of cold water therapy in the privacy of your very own home.