Tap to Read ➤

Types of Hydrotherapy

Rita Putatunda
As is quite apparent from its name, hydrotherapy, which used to be known before as hydropathy, is basically a method of using water in order to treat diseases and to alleviate painful conditions. Related to it is hydrothermal therapy, wherein the temperature of the water is changed to bring about healing effects. such as hot baths, wraps, saunas, and so on.
Using water as a therapy is not a new concept, having been around since ages in many cultures around the world, such as China, Japan, Egypt, Greece, and Rome. For example, the ancient Greeks enjoyed their therapeutic baths. The Egyptian royalty, it is said, used to bathe in water in which they used to put flowers and essential oils.
And of course, we all know about the communal public baths that the Romans loved to indulge themselves in. As a matter of fact, Hippocrates, the father of medicine, advised having baths in spring water in order to alleviate illness.

How Does Hydrotherapy Work?

When the body is under stress or in pain, chemical changes occur, which result in the pulse rate and blood pressure increasing. It has been observed that with the help of this therapy, there is a marked improvement in these symptoms, by alleviating the stress reaction process, and also by providing relief to painfully swollen joints.
This, in turn, helps the individual to unwind and relax, making it easier to deal with the pain.

For example, hydrotherapy relieves pain by stimulating the production of endorphins, which are neurochemicals that occur naturally in the brain, and have analgesic properties.
It also helps in improving blood circulation by enabling the blood vessels to dilate, which in turn provides healing oxygen to tissues and painful joints. An improvement in the circulation also enables lymph drainage, thus clearing the body of toxins.
Hence, for people suffering from the painful symptoms of conditions such as rheumatism, arthritis, sciatica, back pain, aching and swollen joints, insomnia, fatigue, stress, poor circulation, muscular pain, tension, cramps, and stiffness, water therapy can be a great way to relieve these issues.

Various Types of Hydrotherapy

In the various methods, the body is either immersed in water, fully or partially, such as a hot tub or a footbath, or the water being applied directly on the affected area, such as a warm compress or and ice pack.

Full Immersion Bath

In this, the person is immersed in water, which is heated up 90-95 degrees F, up to his/her shoulders, for about 20 minutes. The water can be plain or contain aromatherapy oils, herbs, Dead Sea salts, Epsom salts, or even special kinds of mud.


Also known as a 'hip bath', in this the person sits in a bathtub, immersed in water up to the hips. The sitzbath can either be cold, or alternate between hot and cold. This method of hydrotherapy is particularly effective for ailments that affect the abdomen as well as the reproductive system, intestinal and kidney pains, menstrual disorders, hemorrhoids, abdominal cramps, congestion in the pelvic region, and inflammations.


In this, jets of water that can either be powerful or gentle, which are positioned at various heights, are directed to various parts of the body. It has a wonderfully relaxing massaging effect.


The person being treated lies down, enveloped in cold wet sheets, which are then covered with dry blankets or towels. These are removed within an hour or so, with a bath being administered. This method is used for alleviating muscle pain, disorders of the skin, bronchitis, and colds.


The individual is wrapped in towels or sheets that are soaked in cold or hot water, or a combination of both in an alternating way. Cold water has a stimulating effecting, causing the blood vessels near the skin to constrict, thus diverting the blood to inner areas.
A hot water compress, on the other hand, results in the dilation of blood vessels, which improves the circulation, and also helps in removing toxins from the tissues and body. It is also helpful in reliving local inflammations as well as fevers.


In this, the feet are immersed up to the ankles in a small vessel containing. It can be a cold footbath, or a hot one, or an alternation between the two.
A cold footbath is great for relieving tired feet, while a hot footbath (which should be tolerably hot) is wonderful for relieving aching feet or if the feet are cold. As for the alternating type, it improves blood circulation in the area, and alleviates varicose veins, besides being relaxing.
There are also internal methods of hydrotherapy, which involve drinking a certain amount of water in a day, and also colon therapy, wherein fluid is introduced into the colon, and then cleaned by being emptied.