Water therapy

Most of us in Devon have seen far too much water lately, mostly of the cold and dirty variety, turning up where it is least welcome. But water at the right time and place can be a great force for healing. I’m not talking about drinking water, but the great tradition of hydrotherapy.
Nowadays, it’s mainly sportsmen who are familiar with the use of cold packs and ice baths to alleviate pain and injury, but its applications go far beyond sport. The Romans understood that a hot soak followed by a cold splash would help to drive out the rheumatic pains that living in Britain brought them, and it’s just as true today. You don’t have to do the full hot soak or sauna; a hot shower will do, or heat on the part that needs attention, and then cold water or an ice pack for a few minutes. For maximum benefit, the timing should be about 15-20 minutes hot, followed by 2-3 minutes cold. If you do the washing up, for example, you can hold your hands under cold water for a minute or two afterwards.
The hot soak, besides being relaxing, opens up your peripheral circulation. Then the cold water causes all the capillaries to shut down, and this is followed by a surge of fresh blood which gives you a wonderful warm glow. It also flushes out the products of inflammation that collect around an inflamed joint or an injury, and which contribute to much of the pain and stiffness that you feel. It should be a lot more comfortable after the treatment, and if you do it regularly, it will speed up healing and help to keep rheumatism at bay.
Follow the water treatment with an application of warming oils like juniper, pepper, myrtle or cinnamon, and it will be even more effective. The oils are antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory, and they will readily diffuse through the tissues to where they are needed.