Recently Esther M. Sternberg, MD, rheumatologist, researcher, and author of Healing Spaces: The Science of Place and Well-being, wrote a column in Arthritis Today Magazine about the benefits of warm water for arthritis patients.
Water therapy may be also known as “healing waters” or hydrotherapy.
In Dr. Stern’s article, she qualifies healing waters as exercising in warm water, soaking in hot water (hot mineral springs, Turkish bath, etc.) or even your own bath tub.
For centuries, people have been visiting hot springs and Turkish baths for their warm water soaks. On a recent jaunt to Aspen, we passed Glenwood Hot Springs off of Route 70. The local hot springs were packed with people soaking in the hot springs.
The spa also offered these 20 minute herbal soaks:
• Wildflower for rheumatism, muscle pain and physical exhaustion
• Natural juniper relieves muscle tension and fatigue
• Spruce for relief of feeling down, low energy, and sports fatigue
• Eucalyptus for sinus or respiratory symptom relief from colds and flu
• Lemon balm (also known as herb Melissa) relieves stress and nervousness
• Orange and Linden Blossom improve your mood
• Lavender combats fatigue by relaxing and bringing peace of mind
According to Dr. Sternberg’s article, “In 2009, the Bulletin de l’Académie Nationale de Médecine published a review of 19 randomized clinical trials, concluding that spa therapy is recommended for chronic low-back pain, stabilized rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, ankylosing spondylitis and osteoarthritis. Studies in the French review found physical benefits – reductions in pain and medication, and improvements in function as well as quality of life.”
Another study published in BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders “found that twice as many patients reported feeling much better after exercising in 95-degree water once a week for six weeks compared with those exercising on land, even though both groups did equally well in physical function.”
Hot springs in particular stimulate the immune system, improve circulation and relieve muscle soreness.