Complete Guide to Hydrotherapy by Dr Prem – Origin, Benefits, Methods, Safety Measures, Ways For Home Practice And More

Guide to Hydrotherapy by Dr Prem

Have you ever soaked yourself in a long hot tub bath and felt the best of your life after that? I’m sure you did! How about if I tell you that this technique can actually enhance your mental health along with treating various kinds of health problems.

Hydrotherapy is a treatment that uses hot, warm, and cold water in various methods to provide you with amazing benefits. This guide will tell you everything that you should know about Hydrotherapy and why you need to try it.

You will learn about the following in this wellness guide:

Complete Guide to Hydrotherapy by Dr Prem – Origin, Benefits, Methods, Safety Measures, Ways For Home Practice And More

What type of treatment is Hydrotherapy?

Portrait of beautiful woman relaxing in spa swimming poolEvery living creature needs water to survive. Hydrotherapy uses water for therapeutic purposes- to revitalize, maintain and restore the health. The physiological properties of both hot and cold water are used as a base of treatment in hydrotherapy. Hot water relaxes the body by slowing down the activity of internal organs while cold water stimulates and revitalizes with increased internal activity.

The procedure of this therapy uses water for stimulating the nerves located on the surface of the skin. This stimulation of the nerves works on the immune system, energizing it and increasing the digestion process, production of hormones, stress reduction, and management of pain. Hydrotherapy is also a proven complementary therapy to treat various other diseases.

Origin of Hydrotherapy

People, enjoying whirlpool and saunta after day of skiing, relaxing in nice warl whirlpool outdoor, splendid view on a sunsetHydrotherapy is an ancient form of the water healing method. It has been in practice since the 4th century back to the early civilizations likethe Turks and Romans, who enjoyed relaxing in large-sized communal baths. The therapy was also used by ancient civilizations of the Egyptians, Indians, Chinese, and Japanese in different forms.

Father Sebastian Kneipp is considered the father of Hydrotherapy. He used the concept of using water to eliminate waste from the body for treating varied diseases.Although, there were lots of creams, potions, and counter pills that would help to relieve pain but Hydrotherapy was believed to be the only natural cure for making the same happen.

Over time, hydrotherapy started gaining popularity. It was used in the U.S hydropathic facilities for the first time in the year 1840. Hydrotherapy has evolved and developed ever since and today encompasses different forms. People all over the world loved this concept and also started using it for treating their dogs.

What are the Different Types of Hydrotherapy?

Handsome relaxed mature European man enjoying foam bath in Turkish hammam, lying on a marble surface while unrecognizable masseuse performing him a foam massage at wellness spa center

  • Sitz bath
  • Saunas
  • Steam baths or Turkish bath
  • Hot and cold water compresses or wraps
  • Wet soak treatment
  • Aquatic exercises
  • Water Circuit therapy
  • Hot fomentation
  • Warm and cold baths

What are the benefits of Hydrotherapy?

At a psychologist's appointment

Hydrotherapy provides many benefits. At the basic level, the therapy has proven benefits in reducing stress and providing relief from chronic ailments, muscle soreness, and pain. The procedure of the treatment may depend on the disease or problem that needs to be treated.

Some benefits of Hydrotherapy are:

  • Pain reduction –

Neck pain, woman suffering from ache in the bedroom, painful area highlighted in red

Warm water eases the signals for pain by relaxing muscles and increasing the blood flow which eventually reduces the pain. As per a study, warm water used in spas showed a significant reduction in pain in patients with chronic diseases of connective tissues and the musculoskeletal system.

  • Improved Mental Health

Portrait of stressed despair young man closed face by two handsAccording to the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC), water-based activities can improve the mental health and overall well-being of people. For instance, people with a condition like Fibromyalgia can find Aquatherapy with exercises effective in managing anxiety and depression. Additionally, swimming also helps to release tension and improve mood through exercises.

  • Low Impact treatment

Happy mature man and old woman doing aqua aerobics with foam rollers in swimming poolOne of the key benefits of this therapy is that it is a low-impact treatment. These aquatic exercises or hydrotherapy techniques can be easily performed by people without stressing their muscles or joints. Patients might find it convenient to stick to their workout plan along with treating their health problems.

  • Recovering from heavy workouts

Woman lifting weights in gymVarious forms of Hydrotherapy are used by Athletes, especially the warm and coldwater method. This form of contrast Hydrotherapy can help them to recover after vigorous workouts and delay the onset of muscle soreness.

  • Arthritis Symptoms

Woman with pain in arm, elbow. Pain in the human body, health care concept. Close up.

A study was performed on patients with rheumatoid arthritis. A group of people was engaged in aquatherapy exercises at moderate intensity while continuing their medical treatments. The result showed decreased oxidative stress and improved markers of the disease. Hydrotherapy can be beneficial for some other types of arthritis as well.

  • Pregnancy & Labor

water birthHydrotherapy provides relief from general pains and aches that can be caused during pregnancy. Some people use suitable forms of this therapy to promote relaxation and reduce pain during a water birth. However, it is still recommended to consult a doctor to check the safety before using hydrotherapy.

Diseases that can be treated with Hydrotherapy

flu and asthma bronchitis virus healing

One can have the treatment of Hydrotherapy in wellness resorts,and WellnessSpas, or can also practice hydrotherapy at home as self-care. Different treatments are used depending on the diseased conditions, including:

  • Rehabilitation from injuries and stroke
  • Respiratory infection
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis and other joint and muscular disorders
  • Insomnia
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Headache
  • Diabetes
  • Fatigue
  • Hyper or low blood pressure
  • Respiratory –colds, asthma, bronchitis
  • Fast recovery from various disease

What Equipment and Tools required for Hydrotherapy?

Young woman on bicycle simulator underwater in the pool.

While Hydrotherapy can be practiced simply by sitting and soaking in a warm bath or using contrast Hydrotherapy bath or shower. These types of practices can also be done at home. However, other practices of Hydrotherapy involve the use of specialist equipment and locations. The type of procedure used for the treatment will completely depend on the goal of the treatment and analyses by the practitioner.

Specialized equipment that Hydrotherapy may include are:

couple in love in jacuzzi enjoying a hydrotherapy session

  1. Whirlpool Bath – These are water-filled large baths that also have air jets for creating a swirling motion. These are usually used for treating conditions like joint pain, muscle soreness, and arthritis.
  2. Underwater treadmill – It is the best way to perform low-impact physical exercise that effectively increases mobility of the patient. These high-tech aquatic treadmills give an ideal surface for weight loss and also provide you with a unique experience.
  3. Underwater Cycle – It is a specially designed underwater cycle that is suited for rehabilitation purposes at any phase with equipped variable resistance mechanism. It is useful to treat certain physical ailments in people.
  4. Jacuzzis – Jacuzzis are almost the same as whirlpool baths, except that the air jets in these pools are more powerful and creates a stronger massage. Jacuzzis are also one of the common features in the wellness resort and spa business as they help in reducingstress, tension, and headaches.
  5. Foot Spas – These are basically small warm water-filled tubs that provide circulation to the feet. It helps in relieving foot pain and improves blood circulation.

Hydrotherapy Pool-based Exercises

Hydrotherapy Pool-based Exercise

Multiple benefits of Hydrotherapy can be obtained through exercises performed in water. The weightless aquatic environment allows pain-free movements by taking off the load on your joints. It helps to improve flexibility. This environment of water also strengthens ligaments, muscles, and bones. Pool-based exercises are also a great way for improving your cardiovascular fitness and balance without any risk of injury or falls.

You can find these exercises in places that provide hydrotherapy. You can visit spas and wellness resorts, etc. You can also seek the help of a wellness resort consultant if you are planning to include hydrotherapy in your wellness resort, hotel, and spa. If you wish to undergo hydrotherapy, it is advised to consult your doctor. The below-mentioned pool-based exercises are some of the commonly used exercises in hydrotherapy.

They are:

  • Side Stepping

steps with toesFacing the poolside take sideways steps with your toes and body in the position facing the wall. Take 20 steps down covering the length of that pool and come back to the position you started. You can increase your speed and move faster or even try skipping sideways. Repeat this 3 times in other directions.

  • Arm raises

Stand in neck-deep water level. Keep your hands down on your sides. Now, bring out your arms straight forming the shape of the letter ‘T’ with your body. Then push the hands back down on your sides. This exercise can also be done by raising your hands straight up in front of you. Repeat 3 sets of this of 10.

  • Standing knee lifts

Touch your both feet on the bottom and stand facing the pool wall. Stay in the same position and lift up your left knee as if you are marching. While your knee is atthe level with your hip, straighten your knee and leg in front of you. Continue bending and straightening your knee 10 times. Do the same with your right knee. Repeat 3 sets of this exercise 10 times each.

  • Forward lunges

Forward lungesStand in the water that is to your waist-deep level and take one long step forward. While keeping your weight on your heel, bend the knee of your front leg down and make sure you don’t move forward than your toes. After a second or so, push yourself back up returning to the position you started. Do the same with both legs for 10 times. Repeat 3 sets of this exercise with each leg.

  • Water planks

Stand in the water that is at least at your shoulder level. Now hold a foam noodle right in front of you and lean forward on the noodle on your elbows. Your body should be in a plank position at this time, submerged sightly in the water while your elbows stay perpendicular to the pool’s bottom. Make sure your feet remain touched on the floor of the pool. Now hold this position anywhere between 15 to 60 seconds depending on your comfort and core strength. Repeat 3 sets of this exercise.

  • Pushups

Stand facing the poolside and place your shoulder width in front of the edge of the pool. Hold the edge with bending elbows and bring down your chest till it touches the side of the pool. Hold this position for 3 to 5 seconds and then do the push-up by making your elbows straight and then back in the starting position. Repeat 3 sets of this with 10 push-ups each. You can switch difficulty levels up mobbing down or deeper to the shallow pool end.

  • Single leg balance

Single leg balanceFor this exercise, the water level can vary from your waist to your shoulders. Now stand on your left leg while lifting the knee of your other leg to your hip height. Try to hold this position as long as possible, try to reach at least 30 seconds before switching the leg. This is a great way to improve your balance while you are in a safe environment of water. Repeat 5 sets of this exercise for each leg.

  • Standing donkey kicks at the pool walls

Your lower part of the body needs to be submerged in the water completely for this exercise. Stand in the pool looking down while taking the support of the pool walls on your one side. Now swing the leg that is away from the poolside like you are kicking. Keep your knee straight while swinging the leg and then return back to the straight position. Repeat 3 sets of 10 times each leg.

  • Water walking or jogging

Stand in the pool that has water at your chest-deep level. Now start walking forward along the bottom of your pool and then walk backward again. You can increase the intensity of this exercise by increasing the speed or jogging. It is advised to jog for 30 seconds followed by a walk for 30 seconds for a nice workout. Continue this exercise for 5 to 7 minutes.

  • Deep water bicycle

Deep water bicycleThis hydrotherapy treatment is well-known to kill your knee pain. To do this deep-water exercise, you will need to attach a loop of foam noodles around your body or a floatation belt. Now move both your legs as if you are riding a bicycle underwater. This exercises your knee joints without loading any compression. Continue doing this for 5 minutes or as a set of 30 seconds of easy cycling and 30 seconds of fast cycling.

Is hydrotherapy the same as swimming?

Sporty trainer standing on edge of pool and holding stopwatch, strong male actively swimming in the pool

Swimming differs from hydrotherapy in one aspect, that is, hydrotherapy includes spas and exercise benefits.Not only do they provide fun but also are very relaxing to get rid of the daily stress and discomfort caused due to our busy working schedules. The swimming pools combined with the benefits of a spa allow you to swim, exercise, and get hydrotherapy benefits all in one single pool.

The innumerable advantages include reduced cleaning, heating, and maintenance, less space requirement, less construction, and eliminates the need for expensive vapor control systems,unlike just a swimming pool.They provide therapeutic benefits to people with physical limitations also. These types of hydrotherapy seem to be more useful for people who are recuperating from their wounds or injuries.

Couple having bubble bath in hotelAthletes use hydrotherapy in swimming pools and spas to exercise, relieve muscle tension and improve their performance. However, even non-professionals can benefit from hydrotherapy treatments in swimming pools and spas. Not only people with injuries to the arm, leg, and back but also people with other ailments, such as arthritis, obesity, and even learning disorders, have benefited from these treatments of the swimming pools and spas.

What is the difference between Hydrotherapy and Physiotherapy?

Physiotherapist man doing rehabilitation treatment with muscle gun

Both therapies are incredibly effective and applied to maintain, enhance, or restore the function, mobility, and well-being of a person. Whether it is used for treating diseases or just for better physical health, physiotherapy and hydrotherapy have various benefits. The only difference between Hydrotherapy and Physiotherapy is that Hydrotherapy includes the use of water as the prime element, whereas physiotherapy does not.

Physiotherapy encompasses various modalities of treatments such as massages, exercises, electrotherapy, and advising and educating a patient for treating ailments deformities, or injuries. It is also commonly advised by doctors for physical rehabilitation as well. Physiotherapists usually recommended hydrotherapy for treating musculoskeletal conditions or to help a patient restore walking or exercising after a trauma.

Here are some types of Physiotherapies:

Senior therapist applying kinesio tape on a man's neck during the medical treatment in the office

  • Neurological physiotherapy
  • Cardiopulmonary physiotherapy
  • Orthopedic physiotherapy
  • Geriatric physiotherapy
  • Pediatric physiotherapy

Often people have this question that which therapy is better, physiotherapy or hydrotherapy? Well, the answer depends on the goals of the required condition. Your doctor may suggest hydrotherapy directlyas the initial treatment or can advise it after your physiotherapy as per your specific needs. Moreover, Hydrotherapy has the bonus benefit of providing relaxation and relief from mental stress. 

How does Hydrotherapy for joint pain works?

man suffering from joint pain

Hydrotherapy for joint pain is very effective and is highly recommended for people with arthritis and joint pain problems. The passive and active movements performed in the hydrotherapy pool increase blood circulation and eases the pain in the muscles and joints. Also, the hydrostatic pressure in the water helps in reducing any swelling as well.

Woman enjoying hydrotherapy and water stream in spa poolA lot of people find plain swimming also beneficial for strengthening their joints and muscles. However, swimming can be a problem if there is severe pain, difficulty in mobility, or if the person does not know how to swim. But hydrotherapy pool is quite different from normal pools. The hydrotherapy pool is shallow and doesn’t have a deep end, which makes it very easier for treating joint pains with gentle and effective hydrotherapy exercises.

Some of the main factors that make hydrotherapy work are:

Pretty young women relaxing in the whirlpool bathtub at the poolside

Buoyancy of water – As the water supports your body weight, being in the water helps to take off the pressure from your joints. It is the best option for weight-bearing joints such as knees, hips, and ankles, especially after injury or surgery like fractured bones or knee replacement.

Warmth of the water – The heated water in the hydrotherapy pool provides therapeutic benefits by keeping the muscles warm and relaxed post the exercises. The typical temperature of a hydrotherapy pool is about 33 degrees and works deeply in relieving pain in your joints, bones, and muscles.

Water Resistance – The resistance of water helps in strengthening your body, without causing any pain. It treats and makes your knee and other joints stronger and increases its mobility. However, water resistance can also make you feel tired after the exercises. Thus, it is advised to start with short sessions as per your comfort level.

How can you do Hydrotherapy at home?

Swim SpaOne of the common ways of enjoying the simplest form of hydrotherapy at home is a hydrotherapy shower. For more effective and convenient at-home hydrotherapy, you can get the all-new market launch called Swim Spa, you can now enjoy the healthy benefits of a swimming pool and spa right within the comforts of your home. The Swim Spa is an oversized spa that is supplied with an added current.

You can soak yourself in warm and relaxing water while you swim and exercise against a current, all-in abundant space.The best, most attractive feature of this product is that you do not require a full-sized swimming pool and spa that are not at all space efficient but require a large area. You can install gadgets like these at your home to easily steam away tension, stress, pain, and health issues.

What is Hydrotherapy Shower?

woman-receiving-Hydrotherapy-ShowerTaking a shower itself is a way of self-care. But now, you can take the self-care game one step higher, not by investing in an expensive body spa but just by turning it into a hydrotherapy session. Hydrotherapy shower is a great way for those who suffer from any pains or aches or need to improve how they feel and relax. The key is to switch the shower water from hot to cold, which also helps to activate the lymphatic system.

The alternation between the hold and cold gets your lymphatic system fluids moving. In this process, the hot water expands your vessels making them bigger, while the cold water constricts them making them smaller. This pumping effect of these vessels results in stimulating fluid metabolism. This easily can be done at your home, just by standing under your shower by switching the temperature of water from hot to cold.

For doing this on your own, make sure you stand under hot water for a couple of minutes and under hot water for one to two minutes. Repeat this alternation of water for 20 minutes, until your skin feels sufficiently pruney, making you feel as if you have just walked out of an amazing spa. Hydrotherapy shower is suitable for literally anybody, as it is just a great alternative to a basic bathtub or one-tiled shower.

Who should avoid Hydrotherapy treatment?

Beautiful pregnant woman in swimming poolAlthough hydrotherapy has no side effects or risks and is beneficial for everyone, it may not be suitable for some people. Especially, people with the following health concerns, such as:

  • Cancer
  • Kidney disease
  • Decreased sensitivity to hot or cold
  • Inflammations from acute injuries may not be safe in warm waters.
  • Emergency acute conditions that may need immediate care like stroke or attack
  • Risk of hypoglycemia
  • Diabetes
  • Fever
  • Pregnancy

Major Precautions for Hydrotherapy

woman applying ice directly on the skin

  • Mind the water temperature. Water has a natural heat capacity that is 1000 times more than air and can transfer the heat 25 times faster. It is essential to keep the correct temperature to prevent severe burns.
  • The water temperature should also be regulated depending on the tolerance capacity of an individual. The tolerance levels may change from treatment to treatment as per the degree of an injury or illness, body temperature, and emotional state of a person.
  • The time of applying the hot and cold water can also vary. If the hot water is applied for 5 minutes then the cold should be applied for 1 minute. The cold applications of water need to be shorter than the hot ones. The hot water should be lukewarm and not very hot.
  • Please remember that you must avoid applying any hot, cold, or ice directly on the skin after the hydrotherapy treatment. You may use a towel as a barrier between the cold or hot agent to prevent any damage to the skin or nerves. Any punctured hot or cold packs must be discarded immediately, as the chemical gel/ agent in the commercial packs will cause huge damage to your skin.

Who provides Hydrotherapy?

Selective focus of young man holding pool noodle during exercise in swimming poolHydrotherapy is usually conducted in the physiotherapy department in the hospital. The physiotherapist with specialized training and proficient knowledge administers and assists in the exercises to be performed. You can also avail of hydrotherapy in wellness resorts and spas, where certified therapists will advise the right type of hydrotherapy as per your requirements and health conditions. These are especially performed with help of natural spring water and can be in beautiful hot spring places.

If you are opting for hydrotherapy through wellness tourism, you can ask your wellness tourism consultant to advise you on the best places that provide hydrotherapy. However, before you undergo the treatment, make sure the source of treatment and the practitioners are authorized and professionally trained.

Best destinations for Water-based Wellness Therapies

mineral-rich hot springWhen you think of any hydrotherapy or water-based wellness activity, all you can think about is just soaking in a warm tub, relaxing your soul within, and getting some vitamin sea dose. There are some places that provide you with literally everything you need for the best experience such as mineral-rich hot springs, unique in-water massages, sensory-deprivation pods, hydrotherapy circuits, etc.

lift chair for disabledHere are around 12 best destinations for water-based therapies that are redefining the concept of hydrotherapy. More alternative therapies with innovative and immersive water therapies can be experienced for amazing health benefits. Places like these are the ones famous for the flourishing wellness resort business. Below are the places you must visit at least once:

  1. The Springs Resort – Pagosa Springs, Colorado
  2. Arizona Biltmore – Phoenix, Arizona
  3. Carillon Miami Wellness Resort – Miami, Florida
  4. The American Club – Kohler, Wisconsin
  5. Boulders Resort and Spa – Carefree, Arizona
  6. Miraval Resort and Spa – Tucson, Arizona
  7. Fontainebleau – Miami, Florida
  8. Alyeska Resort – Girdwood, Alaska
  9. The Lodge at Woodloch, Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania
  10. The Boca Raton – Boca Raton, Florida
  11. Civana Wellness Resort and Spa – Carefree, Arizona
  12. Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resorts and Spa – Ojo Caliente, New Mexico


Hydrotherapy is the use of water in any method for treating various symptoms. It can also be called pool therapy, aquatic therapy, or water therapy. The treatment provides innumerable benefits by easing pain, treating ailments, and relaxing the body, mind, and soul. Its simple form can be done dependently at home and may require the use of a specialized pool. Hydrotherapy can be done in several types including many in-water exercises. However, should be done after consulting a doctor only.

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