From steam, sauna and Jacuzzi treatments to mud therapy, hydrotherapy, thalassotherapy and algotherapy, you’ll find water at the crux of them all.
Being a sweaty Betty has never been so good for you. By shutting yourself in a room filled with steam, your body naturally heats up encouraging you to perspire. One by one your pores pop open, and you’ll start to excrete metabolic waste via little beads of sweat (maybe not a treatment to try on a first date)? For factoid fans out there, it’s estimated that as much as 30% of bodily waste can be eliminated by way of perspiration.
But it’s not all about waste removal, steam rooms are great for getting your pulse racing too as the heat has a stimulating effect on the cardiovascular system. Because your blood circulation is then boosted, tiny blood vessels in the skin expand which enhances the amount of nutrients that can be carried to the skin, and it’s this that leaves you with that fresh-faced flush look when you leave the steam room.
A common fixture in most spas, health clubs and wellness facilities, steam rooms are an integral part of hydrotherapeutic treatments, and can be used up to three times a week. Generally the dress code is any swimsuit goes, but jewellery, make-up and shoes should be removed.
Feeling hot, hot, hot? The sauna is sure to get your temperature rising thanks to its use of dry heat emitted from hot coals, electric heaters or infra red lamps. Although much hotter than a steam room because of its low humidity, its main aim is the same – to make you sweat and draw out impurities. But as well as flushing out your innards, the saunas dry heat also helps to increase muscle stimulation by relaxing them and allowing them to repair and recover.
Another obvious difference is the fact that a sauna looks like a little wooden hut, the kind you’d find in Little House on the Prairie, whereas the steam baths are usually made out of glass with tiled seating areas. The code of conduct also varies more in these timber hot houses and in Europe, it’s not uncommon for nudity to be enforced. Back in the UK, us prudish Brits would never dream of such a thing, so a towel or swimsuit is a must. Depending on the spa in question, saunas and steam rooms can be mixed or single gender retreats.
Whether you’re wallowing in it or getting wrapped from head to toe in it, getting down and dirty in some mud regenerates the skin by removing nasties and improving circulation. Forget the sludge at the bottom of your garden; this is first class marine mud we’re talking about, harvested near the sea shore. Full of vitamin rich elements, the mud retains water and heat, so by covering yourself with it your body will start to sweat and get rid of toxins (are you sensing a theme with these treatments yet)?
Based on the principle that by immersing the body in seawater and marine extracts minerals will enter the system directly, Thalassotherapy combines water, seaweed and mud with baths, showers and massage. With three available opportunities to absorb the precious minerals, there’s no excuse for your body not to soak up the elements of the underwater world.
First they want you to eat it, now they want to wrap you in it. Algotherapy is an offshoot of Thalassotherapy but focuses all its attention on the benefits of seaweed and algae-based extracts. Great if you’re a fan of the deep blue sea, this treatment is fantastic for toning bums and tums as it hydrates skin and prevents the slackening of muscular fibres. It’s these qualities that also slow down the age process and help to reduce the appearance of cellulite. We can see you reaching for your bucket and spade and heading to the local beach already!
This is no normal bath, oh no. It may have similarities to your every day, run-of-the-mill soak - you still have to immerse yourself in warm, scented water for example, but where the hydrotherapy bath differs, is that attached to the tub is a plethora of pumps that allow air to be driven directly into the water. Acting as your own private Jacuzzi, the water jets boost circulation and lymphatic drainage relieving tense, tired and aching muscles.
Similar to the reasoning behind hot and cold plunge pools, the theory behind Kneipp therapy is that by alternating between hot and cold shower temperatures, your body’s immunity is strengthened, blood flow increased and the nervous system stimulates. So if you’re one for extremes but don’t fancy being dowsed in dirt, this could be the treatment to perk up your insides.
Maybe not initially thought of as a treatment per se, these whirlpool water baths are fantastic for providing instant relief to tired muscles and improving circulation, and it’s all down to those cleverly positioned water jets which target commonly affected areas including the lower back and shoulder blades.