What is hydrotherapy?
People have always known the relaxing and pain reducing affect of warm water. Even little children just love to play in a water and get themselves tired after its soothing effect. Hydrotherapy means therapeutic use of water and complementary agents, such as different minerals, compresses, jacuzzi, essential oils, paraffin etc. People have experienced a lot of different kinds of wraps around their body, warm stones on a body, using dripping oils or oil-massaging in a head and even in all body. What we wouldn´t do to reduce pain and give ourselves a nice relaxing treatment?
Different climate brings you something extra
In Finland we live around the arctic circle, which means that our winters are pretty cold and full of snow. From December to the end of February it is expected to be between -4 and 32 Fahrenheit. This fact has made us to discover different aspects of cold and heat therapies, because when you are freezing, you need something to warm you up. On the other hand, we have an exclusive opportunity to use cold water and ice to prevent inflammation from spreading and trying out the ultimate cryotherapy.
For Finns, the Sauna is one of the most important places in our lives - and in our homes. Practically in every home there is a sauna, which means a room with stove and benches to sit on. The Sauna stove is either electrically or with fire box operated and - this is important: you throw warm water to the stone covered stove to create the moisture. This heat generated by administering water on the hot stones is the key element of Sauna. Moisture increases metabolism, make you sweat and as we know, the sweat isn¨t only to keep you from heating too much, but it also has purifying and detoxicating effect.
Experiencing Sauna is truly a pleasant experience. Everyboby can decide with whom to go to Sauna with (and yes, you can keep your swimming suites on if you like, at least I do, when I'll go to Sauna with strangers; with my own family, we do it naked). You can also decide where you want to sit in sauna: in lower benches is much colder than in the most up, where it is posiible to throw water to make it go up to 176 Fahrenheit. The usual, warming up temperature in every week Sauna is around 140. Everybody can also decide how long to stay in a heated room and cooling down (and drinking water) is recommended after every 5-10 minutes. It's also completely up to you, how many times you go to heated room at each time.
If your Sauna experience is the normal cleaning operation (once ot twice a week) after Sauna you take a shower and wash yourself normally. In summertimes most of us visit our Saunas in summer cottages and if the cottage is by the lake, you'll definitely do some swimming between sitting in the Sauna. Believe me, it's therapeutic and refreshing for every single person. (Yes, the water in lakes can be as warm as 72 degrees in summer!) Every Finn also knows that with a bunch of birches (vihta) you can whip your skin and get the healing effect.
Hole in the ice - avantouinti
In winter we go to Sauna to 'warm our souls' and some people make the winter-Sauna an ultimate experience. (Yes, I have done it and I can assure, that one winter with herniated disc between my L2-L3 I managed without pain killers because of this.) We just swim or at least take a dip in a frozen lake. Or I mean that first we make that hole in the ice and dip in to that. The water's temperature is approximately 21 Fahrenheit. I think you could call this a cryotherapy. There's a bunch of data about how swimming in an ice cold water gives you a lot of healt benefits. You can easily imagime how your body reacts to ice cold water and what kind of adrenalin (and other hormones) rush it makes. The only bad side effect of this (well, some people get 'ice rash') is, that it's very addictive!
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avantouinti) YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vqz3_5ekjBw
Cupping - Kuppaus
I am not sure if cupping is an actual form of hydrotherapy, but it is original Finnish way of treating people and healing. In ancient time, the old ladies with cupping horns used to travel from home to another to give everybody treatments: using oils (massage), sauna (using scrubbing) and cupping (sucking off the bad blood). This tradition is coming back and of course these times you need to be certified to do cupping, if blood is poured. Cupping (making vacuum?) without breaking the skin is allowed to anyone to do.
Watch the video in youTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQM3cIh4t_Y It's from the Doctors!
Sauna with peat - Turve
Relatively new thing is using the peat (soil formed of dead but not fully decayed plants found in bog areas) with Sauna. The peat (or turf) contains many minerals and it also has a purifying effect with the heat. The peat is rubbed to your skin - either all over or spesific parts and then you just in a relatively cold (only 104 F; this makes me wonder the application to do it in a thunder storm here in Charlotte area) Sauna for a 20 minutes or as long as it feel comfortable. The affect to metabolism and especially to production of urine, is huge! The peat is also an excellent way to prevent Candida Albicans.
Video in YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=khkcDlpF0FY
This was an introduction to some Finnish specialities in hydrotherapy. We also have Spas and the therapists there give just the same kind of treatments than here in States. I would say that this writing tells you more about Finnish culture than actually about the modalities, but Sauna is so essential part of us, and it has so many health improving factors. Oh how I miss my Sauna!