Balneotherapy is a therapy that brings together a range of treatments based on the use of fresh water or seawater baths to heal oneself.
What is balneotherapy?
Etymologically, the word balneotherapy comes from the Greek and means "therapy/care through bathing". This unconventional medicine has been practised since ancient times and aims to prevent and treat certain diseases. Balneotherapy has several effects on the body:
Stimulate blood circulation
Fighting orange peel skin
Soothe the sensation of heavy legs
It also soothes certain muscle and joint pains.
However, a very precise and simple definition of this technique is difficult to give because this practice includes several areas including thalassotherapy, aquagym, hydro massage and spa treatment.
The different balneotherapy treatments
The techniques used in balneotherapy are numerous and vary according to the cures and establishments. They include :
The underwater shower: it takes place in a heated seawater basin in which the body is massaged with the help of a water jet.
The jet shower: a powerful jet of water is directed onto the body following a precise path, thus stimulating blood circulation.
Aquagym: this is a succession of flexibility and muscle-building exercises performed in a warm water pool.
Hydro-massage: the body is massaged by jets of water at a temperature between 34 and 37°C.
The whirlpool bath: the body is placed in a hot bath and is massaged by a set of powerful jets and bubbles.
Aquatic osteopathy: this is a normal osteopathic session carried out in a warm water basin.
Pedimanuluve: this treatment focuses on the forearms and legs by placing them in a current of sea water that is alternately hot and cold.
These different techniques are among the best known but there are still others.
Balneotherapy, thalassotherapy, thermalism and spa relaxation: what are the differences?
Thalassotherapy means "treatment by the sea" in Greek. Thus, thalassotherapy, more commonly known as thalasso, is a practice using everything that the marine environment has to offer us: algae, mud, seawater, sand, iodised air... Each of these substances has virtues, therapeutic or not, to help our body feel better. A thalasso cure can be done to relax or to heal oneself thanks to the natural benefits that the marine environment brings us. This is why a thalasso establishment is always located by the sea.
Balneotherapy includes all the methods using fresh water from springs to treat the body. However, the term balneotherapy is now more often used to refer to all practices using water, whether it is spring or sea water. Thermalism and thalassotherapy are therefore part of it.
Thermalism is another way of calling balneotherapy. Indeed, this field only uses spring water recognised for its therapeutic virtues. The water used for this technique is full of minerals and trace elements that are important for the body and that is why the thermal waters are called "healing".
The origin of the word "spa" has never been clearly defined. Some say that the spa takes its name from the Belgian town of Spa, well known for its spa resort, while others think it is an acronym for the Latin expression "Salus Per Aqua", care through water.
In any case, the spa is not a therapeutic objective. Its main aim is to bring relaxation, calm and well-being to the body through beauty treatments, massages and relaxation sessions.
Information about balneotherapy
Indications for a balneotherapy treatment
Balneotherapy is recommended for people with joint problems who wish to improve their mobility. Moreover, balneotherapy is highly appreciated for getting the body back into shape after a difficult physical ordeal (operation, coma, fracture or major sprain...).
Balneotherapy is also very effective in reducing pain such as lumbago, arthrosis, sciatica or fibromyalgia.
Contra-indications of balneotherapy
Balneotherapy is not recommended for people with certain pathologies as it mainly uses hot water (min 34°C). Thus, this therapy is contraindicated for patients suffering from cardiovascular problems, hypertension, phlebitis and other problems where heat is not recommended.
Furthermore, balneotherapy is contraindicated in cases of :