Water Therapy: Different Types of Bath

Here you will find a variety of baths with their procedures and benefits :

Neutral Bath

The neutral bath, sometimes called the continuous bath, is a non-thermic hydrotherapy of great value. It consists of whole body immersion in water approximately 92 to 97°F

Indications : Insomnia, nervous exhaustion, anxiety, depression.

Contraindications : Diabetes, arteriosclerosis, fever, acute hypertension, chronic pain, toxemia of pregnancy, peripheral oedema, cardiac weakness, eczema or other skin condition aggravated by water.

Equipment : Full-size bathtub, bath thermometer, towels, pillow, sheet.

Procedure : Fill full-size bathtub with water of neutral temperature.Make client comfortable with pillow or rolled towel for neck support; adjust water to temperature neutral to client. Client should feel somewhere between “comfortably warm” and neither warm nor cold. This is a better guide that the thermometer, although the actual temperature also should be monitored. Cover any exposed parts (e.g. knees) with towels or cover whole tub with sheet. Lighting should be dim. Add water, as necessary, to maintain neutral temperature. Cool water a few degrees at the end of the treatment and assist client out of the tub. Dry quickly but gently without friction, which would be too stimulating for a curative treatment. Let client rest for half an hour.

Duration : Fifteen minutes to one hour for insomnia.

Hot Tub Bath

The hot bath treatment consists of full immersion in water approximately 104°F. The entire body, with the exception of the head, is immersed in water. While immersed, the body can not control its temperature by sweating; although the client’s body can release some heat through the head. The body temperature rises and the detoxification process begins.

Indications : Poor circulation, pain, muscle stiffness and general fatigue, congestion of internal organs.

Contraindications : Heart disease; diabetes; diseases of malignant origin such as acute cancer, acute swelling and wounds; vascular disorders; high blood pressure.

Procedure : Fill tub two-thirds full of hot water. The temperature should be 104°F Assist client into tub. Cover exposed body parts with a towel or cover tub with a sheet or light blanket. Keep head cool with a cold compress. Check pulse regularly. Do not let pulse exceed eighty beats per minute. Assist client from tub. Follow the bath with an alcohol rub or a cool sponge bath. Dry thoroughly and keep client warm. Let client rest one hour after treatment.

Duration : One to twenty minutes.

Cold Tub Bath

The cold tub bath is a powerful stimulant. Use only with well conditioned clients. Treatment consists of full immersion in water approximately 75°F.

Indications : Cradual vascular conditioning, common cold in an otherwise healthy person, following a strong heal treatment, fever.

Contraindications : Weakness from an infection, cardiac disease, chilliness (heat first), menstruation, allergy to cold, severe diabetes.

Procedure : Fill the tub two-thirds full with water. The temperature should be about 75°F. Assist client into tub. Rub client vigorously with bath mitten. Assist client from tub. Dry client thoroughly.

Duration : Fifteen seconds to thirty seconds.

Whirlpool Bath

The whirlpool bath combines the thermal stimulus of the water with further mechanical stimuli. One way in which this occurs is with the aid of a rotating propeller, which moves the water. In addition, warm air is injected into the water through a small nozzle. Depending on its size, the whirlpool bath can be used either as a partial bath for the lower legs or the arms, or as a full bath for the entire body. The whirlpool bath should not be compared to the underwater massage, as the mechanical component is weaker. One of the outstanding therapeutic uses of the whirlpool is to relieve muscle soreness and fatigue. This is the reason many athletes and dancers purchase portable whirlpools for their baths, or go swimming in a pool with such whirlpool action. Whirlpool baths are helpful in anti-pain therapy.

Indications : Injuries, rheumatic disabilities, including rheumatic muscle and joint disorders, muscle soreness, fatigue, Raynaud’s disease, tennis elbow, knee joint problems, swollen joints or arthritis, to improve the circulation of paraplegic and polio victims. Whirlpool therapy can help with circulation problems and it is a well-known aid in relieving chronic pain and the phantom pain that occurs after amputations. It will also help to heal skin sores and infected wounds, reduce the swelling of chronic oedema (tissue swelling), help reduce the pain of minor frostbite, ease scar tissue from burns, and help with weak and painful feet. Many physiotherapists prepare their clients for therapy massage by first giving them a stimulating and relaxing whirlpool bath.

Contraindications : Sensitive to very hot water, diabetes, varicose veins, advanced arteriosclerosis or any advanced vascular limb problem.

Procedure : Assist client into tub. Start the whirlpool bath at a neutral temperature, and raise to the tolerance of the client. Allow client to relax in tub. Assist client from tub. If you are following the whirlpool with a massage, wrap the entire body so that it stays completely warm..

Duration : Fifteen to forty-five minutes, depending on the purpose for which it is being used.

The Kneipp Baths

In the Kneipp treatment, baths are given as :

• Arm bath
• Foot bath
• Hip bath
• Half bath
• Three-quarter bath
• Full bath

These baths may be taken (temperature) :

• Cold 32-65°F
• Cool 66-71°F
• Lukewarm 72-82°F
• Intermediate 83-95°F
• Warm 96-100°F
• Hot 101-105T

Warm baths may be taken with herbal additives such as balm mint, chamomile, lavender, meadow flower or pine needle.

The strength of the stimulus is determined by :

• Temperature
• Location and size of area
• Length of application
• Individual pretreatment disposition

Arm Bath—Alternate Temperature

Indications : Blood circulation problems, high blood pressure, bronchitis.

Contraindications : Angina pectoris, heart ailments.

Effects : Increases blood circulation.

Equipment : Comfortable chair, two arm baths or wash basins.

Procedure : Have client seated comfortably. Fill one arm bath with warm water, 96 to 100°F. Fill another arm bath with cold water, 65°F. Dip both arms in the warm water, up to the middle of the upper arm. Repeat the procedure in cold water. Wipe off the arms with hands. Do not towel dry. Exercise arms until warm. One hour of bed rest is recommended.

Duration : 1. Five minutes warm water, 2. Ten seconds cold water, 3. Five minutes warm water, 4. Ten seconds cold water.

Herbal Bath

Additives : In warm water only : Balm mint, chamomile, lavender, meadow flower, pine needle, rosemary.

Arm Bath—Increasing Temperature

Indications : Angina pectoris, high blood; pressure, cardiovascular insufficiency, headache, asthma, bronchitis, local non-inflammatory rheumatism.

Contraindications : Lymph blockage, lymph oedema of the arms, varicose veins.

Effects : Vasodilatation, improves blood circulation. Equipment : Comfortable chair, arm bath or wash basin.

Procedure : Have client seated comfortably. Fill the arm bath with warm water, 83 to 95°F. Dip both arms in arm bath, up to middle of upper arm. Raise the temperature of water gradually to 105°F. (This should take fifteen to twenty minutes). Towel dry arms. Fifteen to thirty minutes bed rest is recommended.

Duration : Fifteen to twenty minutes. Herbal Bath

Additives : In warm water only : Balm mint, chamomile, lavender, meadow flower, pine needle, rosemary.

Foot Bath — Cold Temperature

Indications : Venous circulatory disorders, tired feet.

Contraindications : Acute bladder/kidney infections, oversensitivity to cold, female pelvic disorders, coronary deficiencies.

Effects : Stimulates metabolism, alleviates insomnia, sleep inducing in the evening, influences venous blood flow return, increases blood circulation.

Equipment : Foot bathtub or large bucket.

Procedure : Fill the footbath with cold water, 54°F, with the water as cold as client can tolerate. Instruct client to dip both feet into footbath. The client can sit in a chair or stand for this procedure, whichever is most comfortable. Wipe water off feet with hands. Do not towel dry. To keep feet warm, leg exercises or bed rest should follow the treatment.

Duration : Fifteen seconds to one minute.

Foot Bath — Warm Temperature

Indications: Arterial circulation disorders, chronic infection (e.g., nose, throat, pharyngeal), weak immune system,chronic constipation, chronic cold feet, preparation for pedicure, after acute phase of ankle/foot contusion.

Contraindications : Varicose veins, hypertension.

Effects : Increases blood circulation, alleviates insomnia, soothes, relaxes.

Equipment : Foot bathtub or large bucket.

Procedure : Fill the footbath with warm water, 97 to 100°F. Instruct the client to dip both feet in the water. Towel dry feet. Follow with bed rest for at least thirty minutes.

Duration : Ten to fifteen minutes.

Herbal Bath

Additives : Balm mint, chamomile, lavender, meadow flower, pine needle, rosemary.

Foot Bath — Alternate Temperature

Indications : Chronic cold feet, low blood pressure, insomnia.

Contraindications : Varicose veins.

Effects : Increases effectiveness of the body’s heat regulatory system, improves blood circulation, stabilises the nervous system.

Equipment : Two foot bathtubs or two large buckets.

Procedure : Fill one bath with warm water, 97 to 100°F and one bath with cold water, as cold as the client can tolerate. Instruct the client to put both feet in the warm water for five minutes, then into the cold water for ten to fifteen seconds. Repeat the procedure. Wipe feet with hands. Do not towel dry. Exercise legs until warm or follow with bed rest for one hour.

Duration : 1. Five minutes warm water, 2. Ten to fifteen seconds cold water, 3. Five minutes warm water, 4. Ten to fifteen seconds cold water.

Herbal Bath

Additives : For warm water only : Balm mint, chamomile, lavender, meadow flower, pine needle, rosemary.

Mineral, Herbal, and Essential Oil Baths

There are many herbal and pharmaceutical substances that can be added to baths to produce special effects. Water by itself has a remarkable, almost magical ability to alter the body state. Depending on the specific need, water will decrease or increase muscle tone, reduce pain, or generate energy. The addition of certain herbal and pharmaceutical substances to the water is a twin present to the body. Some herbs soothe, others sedate or stimulate, and some others soften the skin. Most important is the ability of some substances to hasten perspiration or to stimulate release of stored toxins from within the body. This ability helps to overcome many symptoms and can improve a chronic condition.

Fango (Mud) Salicyl Powder Bath

This bath is the ultimate. It is the favourite fragrant mud bath in European Spa Kur therapy centres. Its soothing effects are due to the combination of the analgesic properties of the volcanic ash powder (fango) and the pine needle essential oil.

Indications : Rheumatism in muscles and joints, sciatica, neuritis, degenerative non-inflammatory joint arthrosis, lumbago.

Effects : Stimulates circulation, replaces minerals, exfoliates the skin.

Equipment : Bathtub, shower, towels, fango (mud) salicyl powder (ingredients: salicyl powder, natrium humat, pine needle extract).

Procedure : Dissolve the powder in hot water. Assist client into bath, and allow to soak for ten to twenty minutes. Assist client from bath and into a cool shower. Wrap client in warm blanket and allow to rest.

Whey (High Protein Milk Serum) Bath

Whey is a high-protein milk serum. Liquid cow’s milk has about 6.25 percent protein; of that, 80 percent is! contained in the whey. Traditionally, the term whey protein describes those milk proteins that remain after the cheese-making process uses up the casein molecules. In bygone days, whey was fed to young livestock on the farm because of its nutritional value.

Whey is a complete protein containing all the essential and non-essential amino acids found in Nature. Long ago Hippocrates promoted the health and beauty benefits of whey. It was also very popular during the Renaissance. Today it is Europe’s foremost skin care bath product. It is also called “lacto-med-derm bath” [lacto meaning produced from milk, med meaning medically tested, and derm for skin friendly).

Indications : Particularly useful for aging and dry skin, neurodermatitis, psoriasis, acne, eczema, baby rash, fungus, sunburn, and other skin ailments.

Equipment : Bathtub, towel, washcloth, whey bath powder (ingredients : lactose, milk fat, milk protein, graham salt, magnesium carbonate, wintergreen essential oil).

Procedure for bath : Client should be encouraged to bathe in the whey bath at least three times per week. Fill tub two-thirds full with warm water, 95°E Assist client into bath. Allow client to soak ten to twenty minutes.

Procedure for mask : The whey powder can also be used as a mask on the face, hands, and feet. Assure powder to a wet, warm washcloth. Apply washcloth to client’s skin (face, hands, and/or feet). Remove after ten to fifteen minutes.

Mud Natrium Powder Bath

The fango (mud) natrium powder bath, used in spas worldwide, is a mineral-rich volcanic ash extract. This ancient beauty ritual is effective for removing impurities and smoothing the texture of the skin so it can readily absorb moisture and minerals. Fango (mud) natrium powder is biologically pure, bacteria tree, unscented and fully dissolves in bath water. It will not stain the tub or body.

Indications : Tired muscles

Effects : Will detoxify and revitalise the body.

Equipment: Bathtub, shower, towels, fango (mud) natrium powder (ingredients: 100% unscented natrium humat volcanic ash extract)

Procedure : Fill bathtub two-thirds full. Dissolve powder into bath. Assist client into tub and allow to soak for ten to twenty minutes. For a real spa kur treatment, let the client shower with cool or cold water after the bath. Client should then rest, while warmly wrapped, for ten to twenty minutes.

Mustard Powder Bath

The great healing virtues of mustard have been extolled by numerous civilisations for thousands of years. The Greeks, including Hippocrates, the Romans, the early American settlers, and Native Americans all used mustard for medicinal purposes. The most universally known use of mustard is in a mustard plaster, recommended for common congestions of the lung. Traditionally, mustard is used for its stimulating, cleansing, and rejuvenating qualities. The warmth of the mustard assists in opening pores, helping the body to sweat out impurities. The powder can be blended with essential oils of wintergrecn (antiseptic astringent), eucalyptus (antiseptic balsamic, cooling), rosemary (calming, soothing skin tonic) and thyme (antiseptic, stimulant). These natural oils leave your skin feeling soothed and refreshed.

Indications : Fatigue, muscle and joint soreness, insomnia.

Equipment : Bathtub, shower, towels, mustard powder (ingredients : powdered mustard seed, essential oils of winter-green, eucalyptus, rosemary, thyme, sodium carbonate)

Procedure : Fill a tub two-thirds full with warm-hot water. Dissolve two large tablespoons of the powder into the bath. Assist client into bath, where he or she should soak for fifteen to twenty minutes. Assist client out of the bath and into a cool shower. Keep the shower brief. Allow client to rest, wrapped in a warm blanket.

Seaweed Powder Bath

Deep freezing and drying the seaweed (by lyophilisation) conserves the product’s natural qualities in a way no other method can. 11 conserves mineral salts, vitamins, enzymes, and the aroma.

Effects : Stimulates blood circulation, helps eliminate toxins, aids in toning the skin, restores mineral salts and trace elements.

Equipment : Bathtub, shower, towels, seaweed powder.

Procedure : Prepare the bath by adding two ounces (about 56 gms) of seaweed powder to 40 to 50 gallons (150-200 litres) of warm water, 102°F. Assist client into bath, and ensure his or her comfort. Place a cool damp towel on client’s forehead. Allow client to relax in the bath for fifteen to twenty minutes, or longer, if client is comfortable. Check on the client every ten minutes. Provide client with plenty of liquid to drink. A subsequent half-hour rest, with client wrapped in a warm bathrobe or blanket, will increase effectiveness of bath. The rest period prolongs perspiration and the consequent elimination of toxins. Follow with as cold a shower as possible.

Herbal Essential Oil Baths

Herbal bath oils are highly concentrated extracts that contain vitamins, hormones, antibiotics and antiseptics. In a warm bath the oils are absorbed through the skin, inducing deep relaxation that reduces stress, tension and muscle aches.

Equipment : Bathtub, towels, herbal essential oils.

Procedure : Prepare the bath by adding two ounces (about 56 ml) of herbal oil to 40 to 50 gallons (150-200 litres) of warm water, 102°F. Assist client into bath and ensure his or her comfort. Place a cool, damp towel on client’s forehead. Let client relax in tub for fifteen to twenty minutes or longer if client is comfortable. Check on the client every ten minutes. Provide client with plenty of liquid to drink.

Bicarbonated Bath

Bicarbonated minerals are effervescent salts. When added to warm bath water, they create an effervescent bath. They ease minor aches and pains and detoxify the skin.

Indications: Stress, minor pain, minor dermatological problems, high blood pressure, vegotonic and respiratory conditions, muscle fatigue.

Equipment : Bathtub, shower, towels, bicarbonate salts (ingredients: natrium hydrogen carbonate and aluminium sulphate).

Procedure : Fill bathtub two-thirds full with warm water, 86° to 98°F Add one bag of bicarbonate-15 ounces (429 grams) of natrium hydrogen carbonate. Assist client into bath water. Add bag two of bicarbonate-18 ounces (508 grams) of aluminium sulphate pebbles. The bicarbonate development will begin. Let client bathe for twenty minutes, or until all pebbles are dissolved. Follow bath with a cool or cold shower. Let client rest, warmly wrapped, for thirty minutes.

Oxygen Bath

The oxygen-activated bath salts develop smooth pearl bubbles across the skin. They are very soothing and help release tension, increase physical vitality, regenerate the nervous and metabolic systems and improve blood circulation in arms and legs.

Equipment : Bathtub, shower, towels, oxygen salts (ingredients: natriumporcarbonate with 13.5% active oxygen).

Procedure : Dissolve the contents of the salts, which is the oxygen carrier, in 97°F bath water. Assist client into the bath. Add the oxygen activator. Pearl-like oxygen bubbles will begin to form and cover the skin. Allow client to relax in bath for twenty minutes. Assist client out of bath and into a cool shower. Follow with rest, with client warmly wrapped, for one hour.

Underwater Pressure Massage

The therapeutic benefit of the underwater massage comes from the relaxing effect of warm water applied at variable force, particularly on deep-lying muscle layers, subcutaneous tissues, skin, and the abdominal organs (intestines).

In the underwater massage, the client lies relaxed in a large tub of warm water. A stream of water under pressure (ranging from 0.5 to a maximum of 7.0 bar absolute pressure units), is applied by means of a hose that has interchangeable nozzles.

Generally, the length of an underwater pressure massage is twenty to thirty minutes. It is necessary for the person to get used to the water for a few minutes before starting the massage. After the massage, the client may want a cold affusion to stimulate circulation. The client should then rest for approximately thirty minutes.

Sensitive areas of the body, such as the spinous processes of the spinal column bone spurs, genitalia, anus, back of the knees, and the female breasts should be avoided during the underwater massage. Similarly, the massage is not recommended for any recent athletic injuries; open wounds; hematomas in an acute state; effusions in the knee joints; acute muscle, ligament, and tendon pulls; and recent fractures.

Indications : Fractures, osteosynthesis, dislocation, sprains, contusions in the subacute stages after a client has been released, sciatica, lumbalgia, brachialgia, joint and scar contractures, myogeloses, degenerative spinal disorders, chronic joint rheumatism, muscular rheumatism, Bechterev’s Disease (ankylosing spondylitis), scoliosis, flaccid and spastic paralyses.

The underwater massage can also be utilised for muscular hypertonia and for uninjured athletes as a warm-down massage after strenuous training and competition.

Contraindications : Cardiovascular insufficiencies, venous disorders, thrombosis, varices.

Steam Vapour Bath

Heating water to a high temperature produces the gaseous state of water. Wet or dry (sauna) steam is invaluable in stimulating the skin and the resultant perspiration helps to evacuate stored toxins.

Equipment : Boiling kettle, electric home vaporiser or cold steam humidifier.

Indications : Sinus attacks, breathing problems, bronchitis, hoarseness, laryngitis.

Procedure : Prepare vaporiser. Add a few drops of compound or simple tincture of benzoin to the vaporiser lid. (The tincture is made from a resin, so it will leave a gummy film, but it is very helpful in chest complaints and has the added advantage of being a cosmetic aid. It is also a remarkable aid in restoring the voice.) In the event there is no electric vaporiser available, boil water in a kettle, and keep it going by means of an electric tray, or some other safe arrangement. Create an improvised tent over the client’s body and direct the steam so that the client does not get too wet or perspire. A large umbrella can be used. Occasionally sponge or use a cold mitten massage on the client’s body, as this will aid circulation and create a feeling of well-being.


To duplicate a professional facial, follow this procedure. This procedure is most useful for those with excessively oily skin. Do it in a non-draughty area to avoid chilling.

Procedure : Bring to a vigorous boil in a Borosil pot two quarts (one litre) of water to which two tablespoons of chamomile tea have been added. Remove the pot from the heat, place a newspaper on a table, and place the hot pot on the paper. Sit with your face above the pot (but not close enough to get burned). Improvise a tent by surrounding your head and the pot with a towel so that no steam escapes. Sit under the tent with eyes closed for five to ten minutes, breathing with your mouth open. The pores of the face will open and perspiration will pour out. Afterward, gently push out the blackheads with a cotton swab. Close the pores with a splash of cold water and sweep face with a cotton pad moistened with an herbal astringent, such as witch hazel.

Hot Steam Bath

A free flow of perspiration will often relieve the extreme pain of arthritis, gout, and sciatica and will ease other pain. Steam baths are often available in local gyms and are now available in steam rooms or pre-built sauna units for home.

Indications: Arthritis, fractures, sprains, sciatica, chronic low back pains, eliminates stored toxins.

Finnish Sauna

Many accident victims or arthritis clients find that the dry heat of the P’innish sauna helps them to function in a more normal manner. There is an intense but tolerable heat in the sauna room and this causes profuse perspiration within a few minutes. The ideal way to take a sauna is to perspire, then take a tepid or a cool shower, and then plunge into a cold pool of water. The total effect of these three water activities is a feeling of great cleanliness and exhilaration.

Indications: Fatigue, arthritis, after exercise, rheumatism, skin problems, poor circulation. The body soon develops a capacity to tolerate frequent saunas.

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