Healing Power of Water

As a Pisces, I have always been drawn to water for solace and inspiration, but it wasn’t until I read Blue Minds, Wallace J. Nichols’ bestseller that I realized research proves water contains therapeutic powers. I joke that in my next life I will return as a fish, so I could swim pain free no longer confined in an upright human body with an injured spine.

Fortunately, I have always lived in proximity to water. I grew up in Sterling on the Illinois’ Rock River. I spent summers on a lake in Wisconsin where merely peering out the cabin window slowed my heart rate. Even when I lived in Paris, I could walk down the boulevards of the bustling city to seek refuge by the Seine River. Today in Switzerland on a clear day, I am mesmerized by the site of sailboats gliding across lake Geneva surrounded by the white tipped Alps.

Scientific research confirms something most of us know intuitively. Proximity to water strengthens the positive effects that the environment has on well-being. It releases those feel good endorphins.

As far back as antiquity people have used aqua’s restorative powers in thermal baths for every ailment known to mankind.

After every accident and injury (and I have had more than my fair share) I return to water to heal. Without pressure on my joints, I rehabilitated from sprained ankles and knees and broken body parts – finger, rib, sternum, collarbone – and a twisted, smashed up spine. I swam lap after lap until pain receded.

The head of the PE department of the school where I taught, a Scottish rugby man, submerges in icy Lake Geneva each morning to stay limber taking water therapy to the extreme. My friend swears the rejuvenating power of daily ice bath restores health. (click here)

Ice Man philosophy (The Wim Hof Method) developed by a Dutchman, claims the submersion in extreme cold water when combined with breathing technique leads to a cascade of health benefits.

Cryotherapy helps elite athletes maintain peak health and recover quicker.

Although I am never tempted to submerge in ice, I found that swimming in cold, open water leaves me feeling exhilarated and pain free for hours especially since I suffer from an inflammatory disease that affects muscles, joints and connective tissues.

Even if you don’t swim, walking along the ocean as waves break against the sand, sitting by a river, or taking a hot bath, which also relieves stress by promoting the release of endorphins, helps heal whatever ails you.

Or take a more extreme tip from my rugby friend and the Dutch Iceman and jump in. Join your nearest penguin club to enjoy the ultimate winter freeze. Just make sure you have a doctor’s go ahead and proper training first

Posted in health, sport.


    • Thanks Tinie, but don’t rush me into that birthday. I still have a few days left of being younger than you.

  1. Hi Pat, you won’t find me doing a polar plunge anytime soon but I certainly can relate to the healing power of water from my summers at our Keuka Lake cottage. I can still remember waking up to the water lapping upon the shore and feel the calmness of early morning. Lovely post.

    • Kathy, I don’t think I can do the polar plunge either, but if I could figure out way to do it without going into shock, I might try it.

  2. I am a Pisces also and I’m drawn to the water like fish to the…well you get the point. I used to swim a lot. Now I prefer to just walk along and listen to the gentle waves along the shore. Meditatively healing. ????

  3. Domer, too, is a Pisces, so I can appreciate y’all’s urge to be in or near water. I’m an Earth gal, so it’s terra firma for me. Still, I do find being near water to be a soothing experience, and I’ve enjoyed the relief ice gives my aching back. I’m not about to do a polar plunge, though!!

    • Does Domer love the water too? Ice may just be the miracle drug for bad backs; unfortunately it doesn’t cure but it can sure kill the pain.

  4. No thank you! My husband agrees with you, though. Every morning he steps in the shower and THEN turns on the water. He loves the cold. Says it soothes aching muscles. For me, it feels like I’m being burned. But I believe in proximity!

    • I try to finish off a hot shower with cold water, but I never stay longer than 20 seconds, so I doubt it does much good. When I swim in really cold water, I get that burning feeling you mention. I have a heat lamp that I use for back pain and I bet you would love that.

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