Hydrotherapy benefits in a wide range of pools

hydroterapy pool

The benefits of having a pool or pools—whether full-size lap/exercise pools or vitality pools—in a spa are numerous. “Hydrotherapy” is a term often used to describe the use of water therapy for relaxation, pain relief and treatment. Specially designed pools are a great way to take advantage of the physical properties of water, including temperature and pressure, to promote relaxation and healing of the body. Hydrotherapy offers a wide array of health benefits, whether combining soothing water temperature with jets and other features for self-massage; using a shock of cold water to stimulate blood circulation; or using the advantage of water for low-impact exercise—the weightlessness of a person’s body in water means swimming offers the only way to exercise without a harsh impact on the skeletal system. This article looks closely at how different kind of pools work and introduces the reader to the considerations to be made when adding a pool to a spa or home.

Lap/Exercise Pool

Temperature: 27° C to 29° C

Variable; average 1.0 m to 1.2 m

A pool that is large enough to exercise in offers significant benefits. The size of the pool will be determined by the space available and the types of exercising required— for example, different specifications are required for resistance training versus swimming lengths/laps. As a guide, an exercise pool that can accommodate 10 people should be approximately 20 m x 6.5 m x 1.2 m deep, while a traditional lap pool is 25 m long x 12.5 m wide. Where space constraints exist, the use of counter current/swim jets allow on-the-spot exercise.

aquabike for aquafitness  aquacardio activity  aquajump

(from left to right: Acquabike professional by Hydrorider; Aqua Cardio training by Aqquatix; Aqua Jump by Idroterapia)


Hydrotherapy/Vitality Pool

Temperature: 34° C to 40° C

Depth: 1.0 m to 1.2 m

The combination of warm water (average temperature 38° C) and a selection of water features, including air tubs, swan-neck fountains, air loungers and water jets, means hydrotherapy/vitality pools provide unique benefits, including the cleansing and detoxification of the skin, relieving tired and aching muscles, increasing circulation and relaxing the mind and body. The difference between the two pools is that hydrotherapy pools are typically much larger than vitality pools and allow guests the ability to “walk” or “float” a course of water features; a vitality pool is more akin to what is often called a “Jacuzzi” (the brand name that has become synonymous with pools with water jets). Vitality pools offer a mini-hydrotherapy experience and are typically used where space will not permit the inclusion of a full-size hydrotherapy pool.

neck fountain  pool with total jets

From left to right: neck fountains by Mar Piscine; a pool with total jets by Water Farm

Cold Plunge Pool

Temperature: 5° C to 20° C

Depth: 1.5 m

A cold plunge pool is typically entered after and between hot thermal treatments to cool bathers down. Going from a heated environment to a cold plunge, which is usually kept at about 10° C to 15° C, stimulates the body in several ways. A quick, 30-second dip is enough to kick start circulation and dilate the vascular system, delivering the positive therapeutic effects of hot/cold contrast therapy.

cold plunge pool

A cold plunge pool made by Baires Piscine

Onsen Pool

Temperature: 34° C to 40° C

Depth:1.0 m to 1.2 m

This pool originates from Japan—and plays a big role in the country’s ritual bathing practices. “Onsen” actually translates as “hot springs” in Japanese, but has come to refer to the natural spring baths found throughout Japan. Traditionally, onsens were used outdoor. They are most often made from Japanese cypress, marble or granite, while indoor tubs are typically constructed of tile, acrylic glass or stainless steel.

onsen japanese bath

Floatation Pools

Temperature: 34° C to 40° C

Depth:1.0 m to 1.2 m

A floatation pool or tank is usually enclosed and typically measures approximately 2.5 m long x 1.2 m wide. The water in the tank is around 25 cm deep and is kept at body temperature. The most important element of the tank is the addition of magnesium sulfate (Epsom salt) that is dissolved in the tank: approximately 400 kg of Epsom salt to 200 gallons of water—this is what creates the weightless “float.” As opposed to a swimming pool where there is a sense of weightlessness, gravity in a floatation tank is completely nullified by the buoyancy caused by the dissolved Epsom salt.

Floatation Pool

Kneipp Walk

Temperature: 15° C to 20° C and 30° C to 35° C

Depth:200 mm to 250 mm

The Kneipp walk is a water treatment using a mix of hot and cold water actions (stepping through the water) to stimulate the metabolism of tissues and the circulation of blood. Pebbles on the bottom of the stream/walkway massage the feet, and the alternation of hot and cold baths stimulate circulation of all parts of the body. There are two walks used—the bather begins by stepping in hot water for one minute to two minutes (the water is usually lit up with color), and then moves to the cold-water pool (usually lit light blue) for half a minute. The process is repeated approximately three times. A handrail is often used to help the bather walk through the different water pressures. Kneipp walks can be located anywhere within the spa journey and are often used as a feature by designers, creating interesting paths and walkways.

kneipp pool

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Referenced company: Editrice Il Campo


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