Knowing hot springs’ benefits, what’s not to like?
By He Liyao
WHAT’S more alluring and comfortable than dipping yourself in a hot spring when the temperature drops dramatically outside? Soaking in a hot mineral spring has been a form of hydrothermal therapy, used to improve health, treat disease and injury, since ancient times.
Types of hot springs
Different types of hot springs contains different types of minerals and trace elements beneficial to the health and skin. They have a curative effect for various types of ailments.
• Simple thermal hot springs
They are hot springs low in mineral content. Since they have little effect on the body, anyone can enjoy them. Many well-known hot spring resorts have spring water of this quality, and they are especially effective against neuralgia.
• Chloride springs
They are known for their high heat retention, earning them the name “hot springs for heat.” They are good for treating rheumatism.
• Sodium hydrocarbonate springs
They have alkaline hot water, which makes soap extra foamy. Since they make skin smooth, the springs are called “hot springs for beauty.”
• Calcium magnesium hydrocarbonate springs
Alkaline earthy springs are especially effective for the treatment of chronic skin diseases.
• Carbon dioxide springs
Because carbon dioxide gas is present in these springs, they are often called “beer hot springs“ or “bubbly hot springs.” Thanks to their positive effect on improving circulation, they are called “hot springs for hearts.” These types of springs are often cooler than other hot springs.
Soaking in the warmth of the hot mineral spring does more than just feel good and offer specialized medical benefits. Doctors acknowledge generalized therapeutic benefits of moist heat.
• Pain relief
Doctors often recommend the application of heat (moist or dry) to relieve the pain and stiffness of arthritis. The heat reduces muscle spasms and alters the sensation of pain. In treating arthritis pain, moist heat should be used for at least 15 minutes before exercise and then used again immediately after exercise. Soaking in a hot mineral spring gives the effect of a nice, long moist heat application for joints and muscles in pain.
• Improved blood circulation
Because heat dilates blood vessels, it stimulates circulation. Better circulation boosts the health of all body tissues by carrying oxygen and nourishment to the cells. • Stress reduction
A warm soak in a hot spring relaxes muscles, soothing the body and relieving stress. Stress causes muscles to tighten, provoking spasms. Soaking in a hot mineral spring is a pleasant way to counteract stress. • Better breathing
Breathing in steamy vapors has long been noted as a way to loosen mucus, relieve sinus congestion and open breathing passages. A long session of breathing warm vapors can even help clear out the lungs.
• Not for everyone
Although there are myriad therapeutic benefits to hot mineral springs, certain health conditions give reason for caution. Hot springs are not suitable for people who have sensitive skin, a wound or who have just had an operation. Pregnant women and people with diabetes, high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease should avoid soaking in hot water because it can provoke those health problems.
Points for attention
Hot springs are a great way to drive out the chills and blues of winter. They generally are good for health and curing diseases, but they are not suitable for everyone and there are many points to pay attention to when soaking in the water.
• Remember not to soak within one hour before or after meals. Do not soak when you are hungry or drunk.
• Know the water quality and mineral content of the spring, and choose one suitable for your physical condition. Spring water with too much acid is not suitable for soaking.
• Remember to take off all your metal jewelry or accessories before bathing, preventing them from being eroded by certain minerals that some springs may contain.
• Hot springs with very hot water are not suitable for soaking. The best temperature is between 35 and 45 degrees Celsius. You should first feel the water with hands or feet and put your feet in the water for a while, then slowly immerse the rest of your body. Never dive into the water directly. Try lower-temperature springs first, then move to warmer water step by step.
• It is not advisable to soak for a long time. You can soak for 15 to 20 minutes at one time and rest for a while before take another bath. Massaging yourself or swimming in the hot spring are good for health.
• Avoid going to the spa alone because something unexpected could happen. If you feel stuffy in the chest, dizzy and faint, or thirsty, come out of the spring immediately, take a rest and have a drink.
• Generally you don’t have to wash your body after a hot spring bath, as the beneficial elements of the spring can be better absorbed. However, you should take a shower if the spring has a lot of acid or sulfated hydrogen. It’s recommended that people with dry skin use a skin lotion to prevent moisture loss.
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