The healing power of hydrotherapy

“Water is the driving force of all nature” – Leonardo da Vinci

L’eau, aqua, wasser – wherever you hail from in the world, the recuperative properties of water have been universally known and celebrated for more than two millennia.

From wellness spas to elaborate bath houses, it was Greco-Roman society that first recognised the therapeutic importance of H2O by establishing sacred sites in the vicinity of natural springs where devotees could gather to bathe in the curative waters or drink directly from their life-enhancing source.

As history progressed, hot springs became particularly revered for their geothermal benefits across a variety of ailments – including skin complaints and joint pain – and by the Middle Ages, medieval monks were building early ‘wellness centres’ to practice hydrotherapy.

“Water is soft and yielding; yet it has no equal power” – Sun Tzu

During the Renaissance, a revival in classical studies led to the timely re-examination of ancient texts and a subsequent rediscovery of the potential medical applications for water. Championed by royalty and the aristocracy, hydrotherapy was once again a preferred treatment option at the forefront of health and well-being.

By the 19th century, the custom had evolved to such an extent that hydrotherapy had become integrated into mainstream medicine. Early pioneers of modern hydrotherapy practice include the Austrian, Dr Vincent Preissnitz who advocated the use of a range of cold water treatments, and Dr John Harvey Kellogg (yes, he of the famous breakfast cereal) as part of his holistic health practise.


Attributions: Dr Kellogg: Bain News Service, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons, Diliff. Roman Baths: CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons  

Now fully established, advancements in hydrotherapy continued apace throughout the 20th century with the development of innovative technologies and techniques that have provided not only treatments, but also therapeutic assistance in the rehabilitation period following injury or surgical procedures – something The Clavadel has excelled at since its inception in 2014.

“If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water” Loren Eiseley

As custodians of a time-honoured tradition, our experienced team of physio- and hydrotherapists are dedicated to the carefully considered integration of water-based treatments into a managed programme for patients.

Housed within a purpose-built centre, The Clavadel offers one of the finest, state-of-the-art hydrotherapy pools in the UK. Its fully adjustable floor allows direct access at poolside, while an underwater treadmill, parallel bars, and specialist massage jets help stimulate movement and aid in recovering mobility.

Users report a pleasant feeling of weightlessness, as the healing waters – heated to a warming 34 degrees – help cushion the joints while promoting pain reduction and alleviating muscle spasm.

Looking to the future

“Limitless and immortal, the waters are the beginning and end of all things on Earth” Heinrich Zimmer

As medical science continues to progress in the 21st century, one can only imagine the potential advancements that await at the forefront of discovery. The science and practice of hydrotherapy has already made important inroads into the healthcare outcomes of all those who have experienced its seemingly miraculous powers, and further breakthroughs must surely await.

Meanwhile, The Clavadel continues to offer the absolute best in current hydrotherapy practise to the increasing number of people who are entrusting us with their care, which can be undertaken residentially or on an ad-hoc basis as an out-patient.