Hydrotherapy. It is the part of physical therapy that aims to use water as a therapeutic agent in any physical state or temperature, using its chemical, mechanical and thermal characteristics, contributing to the relief and cure of various diseases. Etymologically the origin of the word in the Greek terms Hydor which means water and Therapeia which means therapy. Hydrotherapy must be differentiated from medical hydrology or crenotherapy and thalassotherapy. Hydrotherapy uses spring or well water with mineral-medicinal characteristics and thalassotherapy when the water comes from the sea.


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  • 1 Features
  • 2 History
  • 3 Importance of water temperature
    • 1 Effects of hot water
  • 4 Therapeutic benefits and effects
  • 5 Different types of bathrooms
    • 1 Invigorating baths
    • 2 Aphrodisiac baths
    • 3 Calming baths
    • 4 Relaxing baths
    • 5 Purifying-circulatory baths
  • 6 Observations
  • 7 In aromatherapy
  • 8 Contraindications
  • 9 Sources


Hydrotherapy consists of the application of treatments whose therapeutic agent is water. It is important to know that depending on the properties of the water used in the treatment there are several names:

  • Hydrotherapy: application of water without therapeutic properties (tap water).
  • Crenotherapy or Balneotherapy: the water used is mineral-medicinal water and has characteristic properties of its composition. Both terms refer to the same thing, the first being of Greek origin and the second a Greco-Latin hybrid, and one or the other is used depending on the geographical area.
  • Thalassotherapy: the application in this case is done with sea water.


The water has been used since time immemorial as a health and beauty. The ancient Greeks, and especially the Romans, used it successfully in the treatment of disease and the preservation of health. Today, hydrotherapy is used for both medicinal and cosmetic purposes, as there are many possible treatments.

Importance of water temperature

When taking a bath, it must be taken into account that, depending on the temperature of the water, some or other effects will be obtained on the body, such as hot water baths that oscillate (between 36 and 38ºC) are the most pleasant and the most suitable for relaxing, and it is recommended that their duration should not exceed 20 minutes.

Effects of hot water

The benefits of a good hot water bath on the body are numerous and varied, since it produces:

  • A warm-up of the body
  • Superficial vasodilation, which increases circulation to the skin and subcutaneous tissue
  • Deep vasodilation that produces a relaxation that eliminates contractures and muscle fatigue
  • It causes sweating and elimination of toxins, as well as general relaxation.

Therapeutic benefits and effects

The therapeutic effects derive mainly from the mechanical effect and the thermal effect of the application of water.

The mechanical effect is related to hydrostatic, hydrodynamic and hydrokinetic factors. Floating (hydrostatic factor) allows passive, assisted or resisted exercises to be carried out through the use of floats or weights depending on the objective set. In addition, the immersion allows:

  • Maintain or restore mobility.
  • Improve proprioception, balance and coordination since water acts as a stimulus.
  • Enhance the patient’s mood since in the water you can perform more exercises and more easily than in the dry.
  • Facilitate return circulation (Pascal’s principle).
  • On the respiratory system, making inspiration difficult and favoring expiration, thus working the respiratory muscles.

Regarding the thermal effect, the temperature of the water will determine the effects that will occur in the body. Hot water (37-40ºC) produces a muscle relaxant and vasodilator effect, while cold water (16-23ºC) is a stimulating, anti-inflammatory and analgesic application. The indifferent temperature is one that is between 34 and 36 ºC.

Different types of bathrooms

Invigorating baths

To tone the body and mind: The water should not be excessively hot, and Cypress , Orange and rosemary are recommended

  • Orange induces optimism and a will to live
  • Rosemary, in addition to being a good muscle tonic, increases the perception of our senses
  • To increase muscle tone and increase energy, it is recommended: cypress

Aphrodisiac baths

In this case, the oils or extracts of peppermint, cinnamon and ginger will be very useful.

  • Ginger is aromatic and stimulating the senses with a sweet and attractive essence
  • Mint stimulates sexuality and is a cleanser for muscle fatigue, it also stimulates sensuality
  • And cinnamon, with a sweet and spicy fragrance, relieves tension and invigorates the senses.

Calming baths

It reduces anxiety, relaxes the nerves and promotes sleep. It is preferable to take it at night before going to bed.

  • The most suitable oils are Sandalwood , Chamomile or Lavender
  • Sandalwood is a harmonizer of the psychic faculties, at the same time that it enhances calm and favors meditation. It also helps to release internal tensions.
  • Chamomile is an excellent calming and tranquilizer
  • Lavender is ideal to boost the sleep of nervous children

Relaxing baths

The most indicated oils in this case are Jasmine , Lavender and Geranium and, if used together, three drops of each are enough.

  • Jasmine has a seductive aroma and acts as a general relaxant for the body.
  • Lavender, in addition to being an excellent muscle relaxant, is a good tranquilizer and sleep aid
  • Geranium reduces muscle pain.

Purifying-circulatory baths

Lemon , pine and rosemary oils are the most suitable for a bath that favors drainage and the elimination of toxins.

  • Lemon and pine stimulate blood and lymphatic circulation , which is why they can be of great help when it comes to fighting circulatory disorders and leg pain caused by fluid retention
  • Rosemary also has a decongestant effect, while stimulating circulation, the adrenal glands and the gallbladder


When winter arrives, the baths take on other characteristics, and then we must prevent the annoying COLDS, FLU AND nasal CONGESTIONS, and for this, nothing better than a very hot bath with Eucalyptus and Thyme .

  • Eucalyptus is expectorant, bactericidal and antiseptic , it also reduces headaches and lowers fever.
  • Thyme strengthens the immune system and protects against colds. It also stimulates sweating.

In aromatherapy

It is based on using the essential oils of plants for therapeutic and aesthetic purposes. In cosmetics, it is very effective because the skin absorbs the oils quickly, and leads them to the bloodstream, in such a way that their properties act quickly on the body. Without forgetting smell, another important route of administration. To enjoy a relaxing bath, nothing better than adding a few drops of essential oils to the water, as they allow treating different physical ailments and different states of mind thanks to the action of their fragrances. Other relaxing measures are to be accompanied by candlelight and pleasant music. The use of these oils will aromatize the bathroom, while providing us with physical and mental well-being. There are numerous essential oils, although each one is indicated for a specific case. Thus, for example, Marjoram balances the nervous system and Carrot stimulates and tones the skin.

We can use the aromas that we like the most, since Aromatherapy maintains that, if a smell attracts us especially, it is because we need it. When preparing an aromatherapy bath, it is necessary to add between five and ten drops of the essential oil to the water, which should not exceed 38 ºC. You can also mix several oils, although it is not recommended to combine more than three. A large number of the oils used in aromatherapy are also plants frequently used in the diet: Basil , Mint , Rosemary … Depending on the plant used, the oil can be extracted from the seeds, the root, the bark, the leaves, the flower, fruit and even resins such as Pine orFrankincense .


  • Severe cardiac, peripheral vascular and respiratory pathologies that the doctor indicates that hydrotherapeutic treatments should not be applied until stabilization.
  • Patients who can spread some type of infection due to the pathology they suffer, in this case hydrotherapy could be applied in individual tanks whenever indicated by the doctor.
  • Acute illnesses with fever.
  • States of extreme weakness.
  • Terminally ill.
  • Sphincter incontinence.
  • Skin diseases in the case of sulfated waters.
  • Care should be taken with obese, pregnant, hypotensive people or those who have an impediment to hydrotherapy treatments.


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