Hydromassage as a complement to sport
Over the last few years, many high-level sports clubs have suggested to their athletes reducing fatigue with either a hydrotherapy or sauna session. Indeed, these practices seem effective at the end of a heavy training session and at the end of matches, in order to accelerate the recovery of a full muscular activity. The reason lies in the fact that water possesses physical properties, making it a valuable tool for applying thermal stimuli to the body. Besides, with appropriate water jets in a tub which has been suitably modeled to meet the morphology of the human being, it is possible to exert a series of calibrated pressures on the skin so as to promote the movement of cutaneous and subcutaneous liquids from the peripheral area to the centre of the body. In this way, it seems that the accumulation of liquids which occurs under the skin and especially in muscle at the end of heavy exercise can be disposed of more quickly, thereby helping the athlete to recover. This possibility is a hypothesis, not yet proven using experiments, but it would also apply to lactic acid which accumulates in the muscle immediately after intense exercise.
For the same reasons, also not yet demonstrated on a scientific basis, but with subjective benefits, alternated hot and cold baths are also used, with the logic that alternating cutaneous and muscular vasodilation (hot baths) with vasoconstriction (cold baths) leads to a removal of blood from skin and muscle (the outer layer) towards the deeper parts of the body (central nucleus) with a supposed quicker removal of metabolic products from the muscle towards other tissues responsible for the disposal of same (other muscles, liver, etc.).
At the end of a busy day, immersion into hot water for a few minutes, gives a great mental-physical benefit to everyone, independently from practising sport or training, owing to the well-known and particular relaxing effects of hot water (around 34-37°C), encouraging, amongst other things, sleep in children and infants.
Sauna, support for sport
As with hydromassage, so also the sauna has been recently proposed by sports associations to their athletes, as an effective solution for muscular fatigue. Indeed, the environment full of water vapour permits the application of suitable thermal stimuli on the body, generating a significant cleansing effect on the metabolic products of the muscle.
What’s more, application during the tiring phase exploits the sauna’s capacity as a technique for muscular relaxation and for increasing the elastic properties of tissue, ligaments and joint tissue.