Hydrotherapy (water therapy) is an extensive range of medical and cosmetic procedures, based on a variety of the water use in medical, rehabilitation, and preventive purposes (Kammen & Prendergast, 2000). Hydrotherapy was used many centuries ago. In ancient Greece water was used as treatment from many diseases. The Biblical understanding of water is primarily associated with innocence and purity. The notion of “living water” symbolizes the beginning of a new spiritual life after Baptism. Baptism as a spiritual rebirth in Christianity is associated with triple dipping in the “life-giving water”. Father of hydrotherapy is Sebastian Kneipp (“Hydrotherapy History,” n.d.). In 1849, being a student of philosophy, he found a book by J. S. Hahn in the library. It described the strength and dignity of cold water with the indoor and outdoor use, especially for sick people. S. Kneipp was 28 years old and suffered from lung disease. After reading the advice in the book, he began to swim in the Danube. He recovered from the disease and began to promote water treatment. His book “My Water Cure”, first published in 1886, remains a bestseller. Kneipp’s therapy is the main method of treatment for many resorts in Germany and Austria. At the end of XIX century, there were about 100 spa health resorts in Europe.
Thermal, chemical and mechanical (reflex) impacts, as well as hydrostatic pressure and buoyancy of water, are at the heart of hydrotherapy. Advantages of such treatment are versatility, the lack of toxicity, and sensitization of the organism. General, segmental, and local reflex responses are combined. Water treatment, as a rule, does not cause any pain or discomfort. Moreover, the vast majority of people says that water lifts the mood, energy and decreases fatigue. Even kids use it with pleasure. The principle of buoyancy is also an advantage of hydrotherapy. It helps repair muscle tissue and heal wounds. A stay in water reduces body weight by 90 percent and gives a feeling of weightlessness. It is recommended to people with arthritis as weightlessness takes overall strength of the body and improves joint mobility. General hydrotherapy must be carried out after a preliminary rest. It should not be done immediately after the intense physical and mental exertions, but only in 1-2.5 hours. Taking common water treatment is desirable not earlier than in 1.5-2 hours after the meal (Dail & Thomas, 1995).
The success of this branch of therapeutics depends on implementation of a number of general rules and regulations. Everyone who wants to conduct hydrotherapy at home should learn those. Temperature and duration of the procedure must be observed. Water treatments using for tonic actions are best taken in the morning or in the middle of the day, and for a calming effect – at any time of the day or in the evening. When a person has cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, varicose veins, and hemorrhoids too hot baths are contraindicated. Restriction also applies to pregnant women (Chaitow, 2002).
Hydrotherapy is the use of water in order to hasten treatment. Water can be used in a form of liquid, steam, or inhalation, as internal or external means, in hot or cold state. It can be distilled or contain large amounts of salt. It all depends on the intended use. This therapy includes baths, douches, rubdown, and sitting baths. Hot vans are used for stimulation and subsequent relaxation, and cold ones – for toning (Dail & Thomas, 1995). The alternation of hot and cold water stimulates blood circulation, lymph circulation, helps eliminate toxins and tones muscle tissue. Baths with sea salt, herbal and mineral baths are popular. Sitting baths are used to treat diseases of the pelvis and abdomen, kidney, liver, constipation and hemorrhoids. Water therapy is useful for people with disabilities, because the aquatic environment can increase range of motion. Sprayings and steam inhalations with essential oils bring fast relief for respiratory diseases. Hydrotherapy is one of the safest and cheapest ways to treat common diseases, and so this method is ideal for self-medication (Campion, 1997).
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