Hydrotherapy at Your Fingertips
by Lalou Begue, LicAc
I would like to share a tip that I received a long time ago while traveling to Sweden. The health benefits of hydrotherapy have been enjoyed all over the globe and throughout the ages, from the sweat lodges of the Native Americans and the saunas of Sweden, to the our modern day spas.
Now there is a practice that is not only inexpensive, but is literally right at our finger tips – playing with the hot/cold settings in the shower.
I know, this is winter and everyone loves to take a hot bath or shower, but the hot shower opens up the peripheral blood flow and makes us relaxed, but more tolerant to cold later on. If you would like to experiment with this, step in the shower, set the water at your favorite temperature. After a while, dial down the temperature to cool and stay there a little while. Let your body get used to it and then slowly turn the faucet to a cooler setting, one that you feel comfortable with. Stay there for a while, exposing your whole body to the water. Then slowly reverse to a warmer setting and repeat if you would like.
The cold water has an energizing effect on the body – the changes in temperature stimulates the sympathetic nervous systems and the vasomotor centers of the brain, making your body more adaptable to temperature changes. In Chinese Medicine, we think that this type of practice makes our protective energy stronger and more able to resist infections.
Remember to always end with a warm setting to get back to a more neutral state.