Guest contributor: Shelby Jones, Public Relations Manager, ISPA

The word “spa” translates from the Latin phrase Salude Per Aqua and means “healing through water.” Since ancient times water treatments, or hydrotherapy, has been common place in Europe but never really caught on in the United States. The ISPA Global Consumer Study reveals that in France, Italy and Spain hydrotherapy treatments are the second most popular type of treatment. In the United States, hydrotherapy treatments aren’t even listed among the top five.

So what gives? Perhaps it’s that we Americans don’t really know what hydrotherapy is. The basic definition of hydrotherapy is any treatment that incorporates water for therapeutic purposes. Treatments like underwater massage, mineral baths, hot and cold plunge pools and vichy showers are all categorized as hydrotherapy. Here are a few other hydrotherapy treatments that you might not be familiar with:

Balneotherapy –  The use of hot springs, mineral, or sea waters to restore and revitalize the body, improving circulation, fortifying the immune system, as acting as a pain reliever and anti-stress treatment.

Iodine-Grine Therapy – Mineral baths, naturally rich in salt and iodine, used mostly in Europe for recuperation and convalescence.

Kneipp Treatments – Combining hydrotherapy, herbology, and a diet of natural foods. Includes the use of herbal bath oils, eucalyptus, lavender, rosemary, meadow blossom, spruce, pine, juniper, chamomile, and hops to comfort body and mind.

Swiss Shower – Standing body massage delivered with high-pressure hoses. This invigorating shower tones circulation by contracting, then dilating capillaries as water from 16 needle-spray shower heads and two high-pressure hoses fluctuates from hot to cold to hot for several seconds at a time, aiding in circulation and helping relieve the pain of arthritis and rheumatism.

Thalassotherapy – Using the therapeutic benefits of the sea, and seawater products for their vitamins and minerals, which can heal and reinvigorate skin and hair. Treatments include: Individual baths of fresh seawater equipped with powerful underwater jets for deep massage; or a therapist applying manual massage to the body with water pipes. A body wrap is sometimes incorporated using seaweed or sea algae paste to eliminate toxins, restore minerals and skin elasticity.

If you want to learn more about different spa treatments visit ISPA’s spa glossary at If you’re in the spa industry, we encourage you to become a member of our partner ISPA, the International Spa Assocation; weekly emails with pointers like these are just one small part of the package to help you succeed!


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