The Health Benefits of Hydrotherapy
The Health Benefits of Hydrotherapy
What Is Hydrotherapy
Hydrotherapy utilizes water as a natural system of rehabilitation. Also known as water therapy, aquatic therapy, pool therapy and balneotherapy, hydrotherapy uses a combination of hot and cold elements to engage your muscles in a ‘temperature massage’.
The Origins of Hydrotherapy
The physical health benefits of switching between different temperatures of water dates back as far as 4500 BC, and later Roman physicians Galen and Celsus recorded treating patients with warm and cold baths to boost immunity.
The origins of hydrotherapy have a long history in “soothing sore or inflamed muscles and joints, rehabilitating injured limbs, soothing headaches, promoting relaxation… and stimulating the immune system.”
At the Alyeska Nordic Spa, we are a natural, outdoor destination committed to offering the health benefits that are commonly used in hot and cold therapy.
What are the Physical Health Benefits of Hydrotherapy?
Hydrotherapy uses water temperature to improve the health of the circulatory, respiratory and nervous systems. Active treatments at Alaska’s only Nordic Spa include our sauna, steam cabins, the gathering pool, the reflection pool, the cold plunge pool and a variety of restful stops. These engage a variety of physical health benefits, including:
- Cold water immersion, which “induces significant physiological and biochemical changes in the body such as an increase in HR, BP, metabolism, and peripheral catecholamine concentration; and decrease in cerebral blood flow.”
- Increased oxygen transport during immersion within warmer water which decreases muscle damage, including muscle soreness.
- Improved immunity using repeated cold plunges
The “warmth and pressure of water also reduces swelling and reduces load on painful joints, (and) promotes muscle relaxation.”
Stimulates blood flow
Promotes better sleep
Boosts happiness hormones
Why is Hydrotherapy Ideal for Athletic Recovery?
Hydrotherapy that immerses the body in hot and cold pools and steam rooms mimics the practice of using water to treat athletic recovery in other modern rehabilitative practices.
Commonly, ice water is used after practices or games to facilitate recovery and decrease soreness and inflammation of the muscle.
Similarly, heat therapy is a popular source of athletic recovery. When active, our muscles are constantly in a warm state. Coordinating cold and hot therapy encourages our muscles to enter states necessary to heal and rejuvenate. Accordingly, “heat therapy works by promoting blood flow and circulation to the treatment area which allows for oxidation of the muscles and improved healing times… heat therapy also has been shown to reduce muscle soreness and improve mobility and performance following workouts.”
What is the Process of Hydrotherapy at the Alyeska Nordic Spa?
At our Alpine sanctuary, you will first soak in the hot pool or element pool for 15-20 minutes, or relax in one of the four saunas or steam cabins. The hot pool and steam rooms are between 95-104 °F (35-40 °C).
Next, visitors move onto the cold cycle; by dipping into the cold plunge pool. The cold plunge pool can be between 41-50 °F (5-10 °C). Cold water treatments will reset your metabolism, and “regulate your cardiovascular system.” Even just a few seconds within the cold plunge pool will boost your metabolism.
Afterwards, your visit will focus on the rest portion of the Nordic Cycle to regulate the body’s systems, and to stabilize blood flow and heart rate. To do this, we offer a time to relax by the fire in a winterized, insulated hammock or on one of our outdoor Muskoka chairs. Alternatively, guests can reap the benefits of their hydrotherapy inside one of our cabin-style lodges or by grabbing a meal at the onsite Two Trees Bistro. We recommend repeating the hot, cold and rest cycles three times to maximize the health benefits of our hydrotherapy sessions.
The initial hot stage reduces blood pressure while stimulating blood flow to the skin and muscles. Experience this in both our hot pools and sauna facilities.
The cold stage stimulates blood pressure, forcing the production of more white blood cells– your body’s natural healing agent. You are then flushed of toxins, your muscles relax and you feel rejuvenated.
Each cycle builds upon the previous, with healing white blood cell production growing each time.
After each hot and cold cycle we invite you to rest and relax, allowing your body to stabilize.
Where Is The Alyeska Nordic Spa Located?
The Alyeska Nordic Spa is 40 miles south of Anchorage, Alaska in the town of Girdwood. The spa is located in a woodland setting behind the Alyeska Resort.
Convenient access is available at the modern Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.
From the airport, take the scenic Seward Highway heading south. The Seward Highway was voted America’s Most Outstanding Scenic Byway by Scenic America, a national conservation organization, in 1995 and by the US Department of Transportation in 2000.
The Seward Highway follows along the Turnagain Arm with many interpretative rest stops and view points. Depending on the season, it is not unusual to spot beluga whales or Dall sheep from your car window. Take the highway and look for signs to Girdwood, the home of Alyeska Resort and Nordic Spa. You will take a left-hand turn onto Alyeska Highway and continue down the road for three miles. When you come to a “T” intersection – turn left and go one mile for Alyeska Resort and Nordic Spa.