From naturopathic medicine, contact with nature is very important for health as something essential to stay healthy. The sun, open air, land, and water exert a revitalizing effect on our body, and their absence for long periods of time results in a general weakening that can be the cause of multiple pathologies.
This is the starting point of a group of therapies that are based on these elements, such as the so-called sun or air baths, phototherapy, or hydrotherapy, which in turn includes multiple techniques, such as the use of mud and clays, the mineral-medicinal waters of spas, or the use of their purely physical effect (thermal and mechanical effects).
The main therapeutic effect of water is due to its great capacity to store and transmit thermal stimuli (hot-cold). This quality is the one that most interests us at an outpatient level to develop various treatments that can be performed by the patient himself.
The thermal effect produced by water applications, locally or generally, causes a series of responses in our body that can be used for therapeutic and preventive purposes. Any thermal stimulus on the skin causes a local response in the superficial blood circulation, and through the nervous system reflects a deeper response at the level of muscles, viscera and general circulation throughout the body. These changes favor the proper functioning and recovery capacity of our body.
Depending on the pathology that we want to treat or prevent, we will apply the water locally or generally, cold or hot, alternating temperatures, and in the form of baths, compresses, wraps, or rubs.
All these apparently innocuous techniques can have really intense effects on our body, and misuse can be harmful, especially if they are used in patients with certain pathologies such as cardiovascular diseases, which could decompensate.
We must respect some basic rules:
Never use cold applications if our body is cold. After the cold application we must warm up by drying and sheltering or exercising.
Hot applications always end with a short-term cold application that causes reactive vasodilation, reinforcing the vascular effect produced by hot water.
They will never be done before or after meals or using products that contain toxic or vasoactive substances (tobacco, alcohol, coffee).
The invigorating sensation that our body experiences after a hydrotherapeutic application should always be pleasant and never be accompanied by unpleasant sensations such as palpitations, dizziness or a long-lasting feeling of cold. This would be a sign of a vascular maladaptation at that time and if it occurs the application should be interrupted.