lady relaxing in a hydrotherapy bath


Healing Spa Treatments with Water

Hydrotherapy - A Healing Water Therapy

Are you interested in hydrotherapy, a spa holiday with this therapy or are you simply wondering what it is? Then you’ve come to the right place! On this page you will find all the important information about water therapy: where it originates, how it works and of course, where you can enjoy it for yourself.

What is hydrotherapy?

The word “hydro” comes from Greek and means water. “Therapy” is also Greek and means treatment. Hydrotherapy therefore means “treatment via water”. For this reason, it is also sometimes called “water therapy” or “spa treatments with water”.

Using different temperatures and pressures, the water is used for pain relief, treatment of various health issues and, of course, relaxation. Treatments include things like water jets, underwater massage, thermal mineral water baths, spa baths, hot tubs and cold plunges as well as aquatic therapy (exercises in pools directed by a physiotherapist). These treatments are often part of health packages at specific spa hotels, which you will learn more about below.

Amongst all the healing spa therapies, water therapy is one of the broadest categories. It involves all therapies that primarily use water to improve the health and is effectively the grandmother of therapies like thermotherapy, thalassotherapy, Kneipp therapy, aquatic therapy and many more involving water. Perhaps your brow is furrowed as you ask yourself: “the grandmother?” You read correctly - between water therapy and her “grandchildren” there is also balneotherapy, the healing treatment with baths.

Hydrotherapy Benefits: What is it used to treat?

The benefits of hydrotherapy are numerous. As well as improving general health and wellbeing and of course, relaxation, it is particularly good for improving a number of health conditions, such as:

  • Arthritis
  • Back pain
  • Rehabilitation after surgery
  • Rehabilitation after sports injuries
  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Psoriatic Arthritis
  • Osteoarthritis

If you are curious about this water therapy as a way of helping a specific illness, one of the nicest aspects of doing it in a spa hotel is that you are never simply a patient – instead you are a welcome guest, made to feel relaxed and at home.

Hydrotherapy Offers in Excellent Spa Hotels

There is a large and varied selection of treatments as part of hydrotherapy. To help you choose, we recommend you to have a read through our next two sections: what can I expect and where to go: best Hydrotherapy in Europe. As soon as you know what you would like to book, you can use the search bar below to find a suitable package.

What can I expect from a hydrotherapy spa? How are the treatments run?

Hydrotherapy programmes often take place in health spa hotels or health retreats. This means you can go on holiday and enjoy hydrotherapy during your stay. These treatments are either a set part of the programme or will be prescribed to you by the spa doctor and tailored to your needs. The latter is the case you will find in packages that include a set number of treatments that you will then decide upon locally with the spa doctor. In this case, the programme description usually says something like: “24x treatments as prescribed by the doctor”.

The soothing treatments all have water as the main component. There is a great variety of treatments that we will briefly introduce to you here: 

Hydrotherapy Baths

This includes all sorts of baths from typical bathtubs to hydrotherapy pools. This also includes full-baths, where the body is completely under water, and partial baths, such as foot baths, where only a part of the body is underwater. Whether the water is thermal spring water, seawater, cold mineral spring water or normal tap water with bath herbs or oils added, it doesn’t matter at first - the most important thing is that you are in water! Even mud baths fall into the category of water therapy, as the mud is diluted with water

a happy couple bathing

Hydrotherapy Jets

As well as baths, hydrojets are used. These jets of water are directed on the feet, legs and arms and help relieve muscle tension and increase blood circulation. Usually the jets are alternating hot and cold. If you're shivering at the thought, we can reassure you. It is incredibly pleasant to immerse your feet in cold water for 10 seconds after 5 minutes with hot water. Everything tingles and you feel as if you have much more sensation in your toes.

Aquatic Therapy

This is a type of physiotherapy that takes place in water. Heated pools are used for rehabilitation of muscles after surgery, sport related injuries or illnesses like arthritis. You will be instructed by a physiotherapist to complete certain exercises in the water, sometimes even with a harness. People often prefer aquatic therapy to normal physiotherapy as the warm water enables muscles to regenerate and the joints to align without much strain.

uncle and niece enjoying aquatic therapy session

Hydrotherapy Washes

Of course, therapeutic washes are not just about cleaning up a dirty spa guest... Washes can either be done by yourself or by a therapist, usually invovling a sponge or cloth as well as water to clean and stimulate the skin through rubbing. It can sometimes feel like a pleasant massage. Washes are often part of Kneipp therapy.

woman covered in bubbles during a hydrotherapy wash

Mineral Water Drinking Therapy

The internal use of water as part of mineral water drinking therapy can have health benefits. This is usually thanks to the mineral composition of the water used. Many thermal and healing waters are also unbelievably beneficial when they are drank slowly, in small sips. Depending on the health resort, you can also buy your own porcelain drinking mugs, which are a perfect holiday souvenir.

drinking therapy

Steam Treatments

Water is also used in steam treatments. Along with the classic steam rooms there are also inhalation therapies, often using mineral or seawater. In steam form, the healing water is breathed in and in this way releases its beneficial effects.

Ayurvedic steam treatment

Hydrotherapy Massages

These are massages “underwater” and “with water”. The guest lies relaxedly in a bathtub, with the whole body (except head) submerged under water. You are massaged with a kind of hose out of which a strong water jet comes. The combination of the general water pressure from the bath and the increased pressure from the jet is very beneficial, especially or the lymph nodes and connective tissues.

You can already see that the treatments involved in hydrotherapy programmes are unbelievably diverse. But they have one thing in common – they are all incredibly beneficial for the health!

lady enjoys a hydromassage

Where to Get Hydrotherapy

The Best in Europe

Many spa towns and health spa hotels in Europe are specialised in water therapy. However, these programmes usually have different names, depending on the region and the specific treatments to that region. In Italy you will find that it is called Fango therapy, which basically means a combination of thermal water treatments and thermal mud treatments. In Hungary and the Czech Republic hydrotherapy is often referred to as thermotherapy instead, as they combine treatments using hot spring water with hot massages and other heat treatments.  The spa package name Complex Healing is also common in these countries and it means a health spa programme with water therapy treatments in combination with other healing spa therapies as recommended by the spa doctor. In all coastal regions, hydrotherapy is referred to as thalassotherapy, as the water used in treatments is seawater. There is also the large category of Kneipp therapy, which today perhaps use the most water applications overall, including many hot-and-cold alternating water jets.

As you can see, when it comes to choosing your water therapy package, it all depends on you and what treatments or water type you would like. On the individual pages of the spa therapy programmes you can learn more and pick out your favourite hydrotherapy spa package. And if you can’t decide, don’t worry – try the different treatments out one by one: they are all good for you, improve your health and are a great deal of fun.

Popular Hydrotherapy Subcategories

How to book my water therapy spa?

Below you will find our top sellers amongst water therapy programmes. Here you can start getting some inspiration. With the green button “Show More Offers” (below the first programmes) you will go to our hydrotherapy search. There you can look at the great variety of our offers and apply any other filters you would like, such as holiday duration and country, until you come across your perfect spa holiday package.

If you are feeling a bit overwhelmed by the wide variety of offers and would like some personal advice, contact our booking experts either by telephone or email, or through one of our booking request forms on the hotel pages. Together we will quickly find your dream holiday with water therapy.

Booking Tips:

  • Book early (30-90 days in advance) to get our Early Bird offer (usually up to 25% off)
  • Book full weeks as you usually have better prices for weekly programmes with several treatments already included
  • Book off-season, outside of school holidays, if you can

We're looking forward to hearing from you!

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