Hydrotherapy is a practice that has been around for millennia. Originally contrived by the Ancient Greeks, the use of water for therapeutic and massage purposes was eventually popularized by the Romans. Modern hydrotherapy began to take shape sometime in the mid-18th century. The first contemporary account of hydromassage comes from an essay published in 1752 by Tobias Smollett titled The External Uses of Water. Smollet explained the usefulness of water massage in treating hysterical disorders, which were quite common at the time due to conservative social pressures and a primitive understanding of gynecology. Hydromassage for bodily aches didn’t become popular until the 1960s, and since then, the technology used to administer it has expanded significantly.

How Does It Work?

Modern hydromassage uses water jets to massage sore muscles. Different temperatures and pressures are applied to soothe aches and pains caused by anything from workouts to chronic medical conditions. Proponents of hydromassage claim that the effects are more than just physical relaxation and ease of muscle tension and that they extend into the psychological sphere. According to some, hydromassage can reduce anxiety and stress levels as well as contribute to a greater sense of well-being and mental health. Pregnancy and post-operative pains are among the most common ailments treated using hydromassage.

In addition to conventional hydrotherapy, plenty of spas, salons, and even shopping malls offer dry hydromassage, which provides many of the same benefits without the wetness. Dry hydromassage chambers feature a waterproof lining that separates the user from the massage jets. Some of these chambers resemble tanning beds where the user lies down inside and relax in a mini-isolation chamber. Dry hydrotherapy combines practices from hydrotherapy, thermotherapy, deep massage, acupressure, soft tissue massage, and trigger point therapy by directing heated jets of water at specific parts of the body. Just like sitting in a jacuzzi, the pressurized streams of warm water relax the muscles and slowly work out knots with regular pulses.

Pros And Cons

While massage of any kind has plenty of benefits for deep muscle pain, hydromassage is not recommended for everybody. Depending on other health factors, certain individuals may be at risk for complications from the treatment. Individuals with certain types of blood vessel disorders (bleeding, bruising, broken or weak capillaries), blood pressure disorders, or clotting disorders should ask their doctor before trying hydromassage. Pregnant women should also consult their obstetrician before seeking hydrotherapy, as there may be other risks involved. Skeletal issues such as fractures or spinal conditions including herniated or ruptured discs may also mean that hydromassage is not right for you. Finally, most hydrotherapy clinics may refuse service to anyone with infectious diseases in the interest of keeping their equipment clean and safe for other customers.

For individuals who enjoy the benefits of massage but are uncomfortable with the idea of being touched by another person or removing clothing to receive thermotherapy or deep massage, dry hydrotherapy may provide a solution. The chambers are designed so that the user can remain clothed during the treatment, and the use of water jets removes the need for human touch. Some sources claim that hydromassage can also help with mental fatigue as well as physical fatigue by alleviating stress and anxiety and leaving the recipient feeling refreshed and relaxed when the session is over. If regular spa treatments aren’t in the cards for you, shower heads designed with a massage feature can provide some relief at home. For the more adventurous, stopping along a hike to sit beneath a waterfall can go a long way toward easing shoulder tension. Whatever your price point or physical limitations might be, there is a solution for almost everyone. Everyone’s personal experience with the psychological effects may differ, the physical benefits of massage have been proven time and time again for centuries.