If there is magic on earth, it is in water. The life-giving, natural solvent brings with it healing properties that have been celebrated in alternative medicine for years. Water therapy trickles back to the days of yore in China, Japan and Rome, and also finds its roots in ancient Indian living. In India, naturopathy has long sung hydrotherapy’s praises and knit in its benefits. Cut to the savage urban lifestyle of today, where aquatic treatments and water birthing techniques have gained a renewed dimension.
There are niggling aches and pains, and debilitating back spasms that impede movement and productivity. Then there are the escalating numbers on the weighing scale that make exercise routines cruel. In hydrotherapies, the buoyancy aspect of water lifts those kilos to address throbbing joints. Explains Dr Brinda Merchant, lead physiotherapist for paediatrics and neurology at AquaCentric Therapy Pvt. Ltd. Mumbai, “The viscosity of water helps in muscle strengthening. Water as a viscous medium provides up to 600-700 times more resistance than air. In water therapy, the negative effects of gravity are negated and the strengthening of weak muscles takes place effectively. This is beneficial for those who are obese as it removes excessive pressure off their joints.”
The comforting water climes bring in safety in physical exercise. The ease of movement in water makes it simpler for those challenged with neurological concerns to flex, balance, and walk. “Slow, rhythmic, mindful movement facilitates relaxation, better mobility and promotes muscle strengthening when aqua therapy ideally takes place in a temperature-controlled pool. A temperature of 32-33° C is considered to be therapeutic for a session that usually lasts 30-45 minutes. All this depends on individual requirements. A cooler water temperature may be preferred for pregnant women, those with multiple sclerosis, and athletes in the postseason recovery phase,” shares Dr Merchant.
Aqua therapy is safe for all age groups. Swimming is not a prerequisite as therapy pools require an immersion up to the chest or neck only. Stay hydrated during and after the session.
Water birthing has picked up momentum on the home turf, more so after celebrities abroad popularising it over the past few years. It comes in as a boon for low-risk pregnancies. Says Dr Veena Aurangabadwala, gynaecologist, Zen Multispeciality Hospital, Chembur, Mumbai. “In this natural birthing technique the mother tends to spend the final stages of labour in a birthing pool or a tub of warm water that allows a relaxing, comfortable, and less complex delivery process.
Shilpi Madan for Sunday Standard