Registered Massage Therapist
Member of the Massage Therapists' Association of Nova Scotia since 2000

The Halifax Professional Centre
5991 Spring Garden Road • Suite 577
Halifax, Nova Scotia • B3H 1Y6
902 • 580 • 2708



"The way to health is to have an aromatic bath and a scented massage every day." 
- Hippocrates

A Brief History of Hydrotherapy

Hydrotherapy is traditionally defined as the use of water to revitalize, maintain, and restore health. Hydrotherapy treatments include saunas, medicinal baths, foot baths, sitz baths, and the application of cold and hot water compresses. The therapeutic use of water is an ancient, global practice. Romans had 'thermae' communal public baths, Japanese 'osen' thermal hot springs and bathing facilities are still popular today. Modern day sauna therapy stems from healing techniques that have been practiced throughout history: Mayan sweat houses, Mexican temescal, Islamic hammam (Turkish bath), Russian bania, Japanese mushi-buro, Native American sweat lodge, Finnish sauna. Throughout time, people have used hydrotherapy to relax, relieve stress, heal and maintain health, develop spiritually and interact socially.

Immersion Therapy - Contrast Feet & Hand Bathing 

An excellent way to strengthen your immune system and to improve your circulation is to treat your feet or hands with a contrast bath.

1. Fill two containers with water, mid-shin deep for feet, mid-upper arm for arms (elbows bent to 90 degrees). One should be hot bath temperature and the other, very cold - you can build up your tolerance to include some ice in the water.
2. Place both legs or arms into the hot bath for 3 minutes.
3. Place both legs or arms into the cold bath until 'aching' is felt, from 10 seconds to 1 minute maximum.
4. Alternate this cycle three times, always end with the cold.
5. Pat yourself dry.
6. If you are treating legs, put warm socks on.
7. Rest for 20 minutes.

Contrast foot bathing is useful for:

Arthritis, repetitive strain injuries, chronic ankle sprains or strains, chronic sinusitis, head conjestion, pulmonary, pelvic and menstrual congestion, weak immune system, poor overall circulation, chronic cold feet, 'tired legs', sluggish metabolism, low blood pressure, conjestive headaches (apply in conjunction with cold compresses at the back of the neck).

Check with your doctor before you do this therapy if you have any cardiovascular health issues.
Do not use contrast foot bathing if you have:
deep vein thrombosis or phlebitis
acute inflammation of the legs, feet, hands or arms
heavy menstrual flow
varicose veins - treatment is possible, but keep water below the affected area


Sauna therapy involves sitting inside an enclosure with a heating element that raises your body's temperature to promote sweating and increase blood circulation. The therapy involves repeated sessions of heating and cooling the body to promote detoxification and healing.

Saunas have either a wood, gas or electric heater that warms the air and then your body. For therapeutic saunas, it is recommended that the temperature inside the sauna reach 80 to 90 degrees Celsius. Traditional saunas feature rocks on top of the heater on which you can throw water to temporarily increase the humidity and temperature of the sauna room - however most saunas in health clubs have electric saunas which you may not pour water on.

Sauna therapy has numerous detoxing and cleansing benefits. While you sit inside the hot room, your body attempts to reduce its temperature by driving blood to the surface of the skin and by perspiring. This therapeutic sweating releases toxins through the skin. The heat kills bacteria and viruses and relieves internal congestion. Sauna enthusiasts say that the warmth and the increased blood circulation relaxes muscles, relieves tension and pain in joints and calms the nervous system.

Health experts and physicians caution people with heart disease and pregnant women from using sauna therapy. The Finnish Sauna Society recommends that people with fever or inflammatory disorders as well as people with communicable diseases avoid the sauna. They also say people should not drink alcoholic beverages inside the sauna and people under the influence of alcohol should not go to the sauna.

  • Begin by taking a shower.
  • Enter the sauna room wrapped in a towel. Some people choose to remain wrapped in a towel or wear a bathing suit and some people choose to be naked. 
  • The sauna temperature should be preheated to 80 to 90 degrees Celsius (100 at the most).
  • Remain in the sauna for a 20-minute session.
  • You may choose to scrub your body while inside the sauna with a loofah brush or washcloth to stimulate the skin and increase perspiration.
  • Follow by an equal amount of time outside the sauna cooling down. This may involve just sitting and letting your body return to your normal temperature, or it may involve taking a cool or cold shower. Sometimes sauna bathers like to jump in a cold lake or a snowbank!
  • Warming and cooling sessions can be repeated several times. 
  • Drink water during your sauna session to remain hydrated.
  • Finish by rinsing yourself off. 
  • Rest a while and drink more water. 
  • After the sweating has stopped, get dressed.