Hydrotherapy Guide: A Complete Guide on How to Do It Properly


Hydrotherapy, just as the name suggests, is the use of water in a range of treatments and therapies. Water has long been known as a powerful resource and is still used today as a way to reduce pain, promote relaxation, and encourage detoxification, and there are many different ways to use it. We take a look back at the history of hydrotherapy to see where it is today and the many reasons people use it.

Without water, our plants and animals wouldn't survive, humans would dehydrate, and our many rivers, lakes, and oceans would cease to exist. Considering how amazing water is for us and our planet, is it any wonder that a natural treatment like hydrotherapy has been such a prominent form of healing for thousands of years?

Hydrotherapy is the use of water for treatment and pain relief, and it is used in many different methods. This alternative form of medicine has been around for thousands of years and only grown as time progressed. Today, hydrotherapy is a common practice in hospitals, clinics, and other health facilities around the world.

We’re going to look further into this treatment, the history of it, and where it is today. With its countless benefits for both body and mind, there’s no doubt that water has been a useful tool in healing and treating those who need it. If you’re interested in understanding how this natural resource can help, read on to find out more about the wonders of hydrotherapy.

What Is Hydrotherapy?

Boy soaking in the water

Hydrotherapy, sometimes referred to as water cure or hydropathy, is the therapeutic use of water as a natural alternative to medicine. This treatment is used commonly in other offshoots of medicine and natural health; including naturopathy, occupational therapy, and physiotherapy, just to name a few.

Hydrotherapy is a term used to encompass many methods and approaches, all of which use water at its source. This treatment takes advantage of the natural healing power and physical properties that water can take to allow it to treat everything from stress to pain relief.

Today, it’s common to see hydrotherapy used in all parts of medicine, with water treatments available at hospitals, health, clinics, gyms, and alternative medicine providers. Water can be used for aquatic therapy or to cleanse, as well as a powerful and versatile medium that delivers different temperatures or pressure variations to the body.

The sheer range of possibilities when using hydrotherapy is what makes it such a popular choice in treatment. Further developments are always being made and new ways are being found for the therapeutic use of water, and there are more and more symptoms and conditions that it’s being proven to help with.

The History of Hydrotherapy​​​​

Hydrotherapy is no new form of treatment by any means, and its roots date as far back as ancient Greek, Egyptian, and Roman civilizations. Even further back, there is some evidence to show that China and Japan also used water therapies to treat various ailments and conditions by soaking in hot springs, which would have it predate even the aforementioned civilizations.

It’s believed that Egyptian royalty used large baths mixed with essential oils to bathe and heal. The Romans were shown to use large communal baths that the public bathed in to reap the benefits of the water. Hippocrates also used to rely on large spring water baths to heal sickness, showing just how far back this practice went.

When hydrotherapy became prominent in the 1800s, it was during a time when patients were looking for treatments that felt more personal and spiritual than what modern medicine was offering. The practice spread from Great Britain around the world, and the US began the practice in the 1840s.

From here, water therapy clinics and procedures began to emerge all around the country and the world. There were spa tourism spots that claimed to cure certain conditions, and then water therapy treatments began to show up in hospitals and clinics as well. Today, it’s common to find a form of hydrotherapy in many places nearby, whether it’s a medical facility or an alternative medicine provider.

The Various Treatments Involved

Within the scope of hydrotherapy, there are many treatments that can be used. In no way in this list extensive, as there are plenty of unknown methods and emerging treatments that are being found each day. These are just some of the more common ways that water can be used therapeutically:


This is an aquatic massage that has the therapist has the patient lying in a pool while they are massaged.


This involves towels that have been soaked in water, either hot or cold, and then placed on a part of the body that requires treatment.

Sitz bath

This is a method of using two adjacent tubs of water, one hot and one cold, and spending a set amount of time in each.


Wrapping cold or hot wet sheets around body parts can reduce pain and inflammation.

Contrast hydrotherapy

This is a mixture of hot and cold water and can be used in the shower or soaking.

Kneipp treatments

Various treatments include hot and cold showers, baths, rinses, and compresses.

Pool exercises

Many forms of physical therapy take place in a pool or other body of water.


Warm water is inserted into the colon to remove toxins and waste that has been built up.

Benefits of Hydrotherapy


The reason that hydrotherapy has been such a popular choice of treatment for thousands of years is due to its many benefits. Hydrotherapy has been useful in treating things like osteoarthritis, recovery from exercise, and rheumatoid arthritis, just to name a few. These are the specific benefits it can offer patients:

  • Rehabilitation

People who are recovering from injuries or illness, or even after exercise, can find much relief with water. Swapping between hot and cold can improve blood flow to the affected area to heal damaged tissues and muscles.

  • Reduces muscle tension

Being immersed in water creates instant relaxation for the body and can release any tension that you’re holding in your muscles.

  • Relieves pain

Various forms of hydrotherapy have been shown to release endorphins which make you feel good and lessen the severity of pain.

  • Encourages detoxification

There are many cleansing ways to use water, including colonics, steam, and sauna, all of which help to flush impurities out of the body.

  • Relieves stress

Hydrotherapy can reduce blood pressure which is related to stress and the feeling of weightlessness in a body of water or a warm shower can be enough to bring a sense of calm.

  • Boosts immunity

As your blood flow and circulation improve during a hydrotherapy session, you will effectively help your lymphatic fluid to move freely around the body which boosts immunity.

Criticisms of Hydrotherapy

There are some things to keep in mind when using hydrotherapy, most of which could occur when seeing an untrained professional to get your treatment. Various diseases and bacteria can be spread through the water so you’ll need to ensure all sources are hygienic.

Secondly, people react differently to water and there are some who might be sensitive to temperatures or treatments. If at any time you feel uncomfortable, speak to your hydrotherapy provider about what you’re experiencing.

Precautions to Take With Hydrotherapy

Even though water is a natural source, there are still some things to be mindful of if you’re planning a hydrotherapy treatment. There are certain groups who may be a risk using water therapy, and therefore a consult with your doctor is recommended before you go ahead. Anyone in these circumstances will need to speak to a professional first:

  • Pregnant women;
  • Those with cardiovascular disease or kidney disease;
  • Anyone with inflammation or acute injuries;
  • People with decreased sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures;
  • Cancer patients;
  • Anyone with a fever;

Powerful Healing from Natural Water Sources

Any time we can find a natural source of healing or treatment, it’s always going to be better than relying on harsh medication or invasive surgery. There are so many special ways to use water to heal or recover, and there will no doubt be many more innovations in this natural medical field in coming years.

Hydrotherapy has been around for thousands of years and evolved quite a bit during this time. The understanding of water’s power when it comes to healing and treating patients has evolved further to now be used in hospitals, clinics, spas, and more.

If you’re always on the lookout for a natural alternative in treatments or medicines, hydrotherapy could have the benefits you need. There are so many amazing ways to harness the power that water has, and heal yourself with a natural approach.


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