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Hydrotherapy is the internal or external use of water as a liquid, ice or steam to prevent and treat disease, physical trauma or as part of daily health care. The body is always attempting to stay in balance (homeostasis). This means that the body is either creating or releasing heat to ensure proper functioning of the body.  Hydrotherapy is used to support the body’s needs by adding or releasing heat, thus encouraging an increase in circulation, local metabolism and the removal of waste products.


Heat is a temporary analgesic therefore decreasing pain. Its relaxing effects on the muscle fibers allows for increased circulation and flexibility.  There is an increase in heat elimination (sweating) due to the increase to internal temperature. Heat is still being produced to prevent your temperature from dropping too low.  Sweating encourages elimination of waste products. Your respiratory rate is reduced, so there’s a decrease in gaseous exchange.  


Cold applications are brief, but very sedating after the initial reaction; cold increases the temperature by producing heat through shivering.  Cold gives the body a sense of danger thus stimulating vital functions.  The body will attempt to increase the internal temperature through an increase in chemical exchange by stimulating metabolism.  “Goose bumps” result due to your heart rate, blood pressure and respiratory rate increasing.  Sweating is decreased, digestion is repressed, and nerve conduction slows therefore decreasing pain.  Blood flow increases to warm the skin so it results in an increase in body temperature. This causes the heart rate and respiratory rate to decrease. Digestive activity is then improved.  

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