Water Power-Hydrotherapy, Balneotherapy and Thalassothreapy

Water is the most receptive element and the greatest receiver of energy. In my last blog post, I talked about the history of the practice of the Water Cure, which is a combination of Hydrotherapy, Balneotherapy and Thalassotherapy. Whilst in the main these water therapies are best practised in a spa or with trained practitioners, some aspects like Balneotherapy can be done at home.

I have covered a little about each method below:

Hydrotherapy is a therapeutic whole-body treatment that involves moving and exercising in water, it can also be called Aqua therapy. Hydrotherapy pools are usually different from ordinary pools – the temperature, pressure and movement of water is controlled and changed according to the requirements of the person having the treatment. However, you could have hydrotherapy treatments in any water or pool. Being immersed, buoyant or massaged in water can relieve our bodies in a variety of different ways, and hydrotherapy can help with many physical and emotional complaints; including rheumatic pain and arthritis, poor muscle and skin tone, back pain, muscle or ligament injuries; broken limbs, neurological conditions such as strokes or brain injuries. Doctors often prescribe a course of hydrotherapy as part of a treatment program. It is also used by athletes to improve and maintain their general health and fitness, and by others as part of a healthy whole-body. Hydrotherapy is often prescribed by a GP or therapist as part of a course of treatment: a program of movements and exercises is tailored to your needs.

NB- If you’re having hydrotherapy at a spa, you may well be having a more general treatment, in which case just be aware of the power of the water.

There are different versions of Hydrotherapy, I have listed several below:

The Watsu Method– Also called water Shiatsu, is a combination of Aqua therapy and Shiatsu. Watsu is based on stretching the body in the supportive, relaxing medium of warm water. Besides the physical benefits this also has benefits mentally. The Watsu method has a general relaxation and calming effect that soothes the muscle tension and stimulates all of the body systems and organs by nourishing the energy flow.

The Feldenkrais Method- This method promotes teaching individuals about the quality of their movements and how to move effortlessly with ease and efficiency. This is called Awareness Through Movement, many of the aspects of this can be successfully adapted to water. The properties of water can affect movement; for example, the relationship of yourself to gravity combined with the unique attributes of the Feldenkrais method.

The Burdenko Method– Is a method of Aqua therapy which is designed to address the 6 precepts of fitness: strength; flexibility; balance; co-ordination, endurance and speed. It is promoted as a great way to recover from injury or surgery.

Balneotherapy, is hydrotherapy without the exercise and is also called Spa therapy. Thermal water treatments are century-old practices, used all over the world and part of traditional therapies of ancient and modern cultures There are three basic ways of taking the waters, these are: externally, through immersion, either total or partial; into the lungs and respiratory tract, through the inhalation of aerosols; and internally, through drinking.  The various kinds of mineral waters have differing effects through each of these. Balneotherapy. is frequently used in alternative medicine as a disease cure and is very popular for treatment of all types of arthritis. Scientific studies have proven that balneotherapy could help in the reduction of pain in conditions such as low back pain, osteoarthritis, and fibromyalgia. It could also help manage stress also in a better way.

Water has different properties at different temperatures: Hot is stimulating and will relax muscles. Warm is gently reviving and will stimulate the appetite, cool, is soothing for heated skin and inflammation. Cold water can only be used for short intervals of time. This can be used after hot water for exhilaration and stimulating circulation. Alternating between hot and cold water can be a powerful technique. Balneologists have three major vectors for analysing and classifying the natural mineral waters that occur at various spa resorts. The thermal waters, as they come out of the earth, are naturally one of three temperatures:

     Hypothermal:  from cool to tepid, well below body temperature.

     Mesothermal:  warm, or around body temperature.

     Hyperthermal:  hot, or well above body temperature.

During immersion, the skin absorption of the minerals in the water can be considerable, especially in total body immersion and if the water is at a high temperature.  The skin and the peripheral lymphatic and capillary circulation are the most directly affected.  With aerosol inhalation, lung and respiratory conditions are targeted.  And with the internal imbibing of the waters, the digestive organs and the Natural Faculty are most directly affected, and through them, every organ and tissue in the body.  In addition, techniques like massage are used with salts, peats, clays and muds. In countries like Hungary and Poland, it has been in use for centuries for the treatment of common ailments.

Balneotherapy can be done at home. The following is a suggestion of ways to ensure it works for you:

Prepare the water in a bath, making sure the temperature is between 98.6 degrees and 107 degrees. If you want to stimulate your body or to treat mild fatigue, a bath at a temperature of 98.6 degrees is ideal. If you would like to soothe your muscles and joints after an intense workout, the preferred temperature would be higher at 107 degrees. The minerals that can be easily used at home for Balneotherapy are Epsom salt and Dead Sea salt. The recommended amount is 1-2 cups in a standard-sized bath. Soak for about 15 to 20 minutes to reap the benefits of this therapy. Making sure that you are soaked all the way up to the neck. After taking your bath, relax for 10-20 minutes, lie down or meditate for a while.

NB-If you have respiratory or heart problems, make sure to consult a doctor before opting for Balneotherapy.

Thalassotherapy– It was Frenchman Jacques de la Bonnardière, in 1865, who invented the concept of thalassotherapy, combining two Greek words, thalassa (sea) and therapies (therapia). The Greeks, have always been a seafaring people and they have always placed great faith in the healing powers of the sea and the marine environment. Due to the supernatural power attributed to the warm waters and their vapours, it’s not surprising how the first Thermal baths arose in Ancient times near the temples and natural hot springs. Some claims are made that Thalassotherapy was developed in France during the 19th century. I think that many of the techniques were used for centuries before this but were actually fine- honed in France at a later time.

The word spa comes from the Latin sanitus per aqua which translates as health through water and the curative qualities of seawater and the seaside climate have been used for therapeutic purposes since Roman times. Today, it’s a big business and there are countless seaside towns where visitors flock to be sprayed, floated, pummelled and hosed using a variety of water-based techniques. The marine air is filled with healing, refreshing negative ions. Modern science tells us that all life evolved out of the oceans, so the desire to take a healing, refreshing dip in the ocean can be seen as the desire to return to our Source.  The writings of Rene Quinton formed the foundation for the modern science of Thalassotherapy. French physicians started formulating treatment plans and therapeutic protocols in Thalassotherapy and constructing seaside Balneotherapy resorts where seawater was pumped in to large thermal treatment pools. The first rheumatism and depression treatment centre opened in Boulogne-Sur-Mer in 1800 but enthusiasm for Thalassotherapy only really took hold in 1822 with the opening of the first warm water spa in Dieppe, which would launch its fashionable beach resort. Which encouraged people to take a spa holiday.

 Some of the health problems that can be treated include eczema and psoriasis, joint problems, arthritis, poor circulation, immobility and post-operative conditions, which are treated with seawater baths and sea algae packs.  Thalassotherapy is also very beneficial against stress, fatigue and aging and other minor health complaints we all suffer from which can slowly sap our vitality and immunity.   The secret to seawater’s effectiveness lies in its trace minerals, which act as catalysts to activate the cellular enzymes.  Without these vital trace minerals, cellular activity gets sluggish, which adversely impacts all the major bodily functions. The nutrients from food ingested by a de-mineralized body can’t be properly absorbed, digested and metabolized.  So, our bodies can’t properly expel metabolic wastes and toxins.  Cellular sluggishness can produce a whole plethora of nasty symptoms including fatigue, insomnia, a slow metabolism, circulation problems and poor immunity, all of which can lead to more serious health ailments and diseases.  All of these conditions can be remedied by the healing effects of seawater and Thalassotherapy. Some of the standard procedures and treatments are algae poultices, algae hand and foot baths, hot seawater baths, ( Seaweed has incredible qualities and I will tell you more about these in my next blog post) underwater massage and jet Thermal Medicine.

The health benefits of the seaside and ocean can be experienced by simply spending a day near the coastline, it is certainly one of my favourite things to do, I always feel wonderful afterwards!

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