There are lots of fun ways to take care of yourself, and did you know that one of the coolest resources we can use is water?  I’m talking about Hydrotherapy, and it’s anything that takes advantage of the physical properties of water, such as temperature and pressure, to stimulate blood circulation and treat the symptoms of certain diseases. This can mean anything from using water jets, underwater massage, underwater exercise, mineral baths, whirlpool baths, hot Roman baths, hot tubs or Jacuzzis, and cold plunges or cryotherapy.

For our purposes, we’re talking about water outside of your body.  For water inside your body, see my recent post about hydration.

You already know about the awesome benefits of taking a whole body soak in a warm epsom salt bath from my post about Massage Preparation for First Timers, but just as a reminder, all you have to do is stir 2 cups of epsom salt (can be found in most grocery stores) into a hot bath.  Sit and relax for at least 20 minutes to feel the benefits of reduced inflammation.  

Ice is also technically water, which makes using ice on your sore muscles a part of hydrotherapy as well.   Just make sure not to sustain ice usage for more than 10 minutes at a time, as this can actually start to cause some localized inflammation of its own.  

And here’s the really cool part.  We live in Austin, which means that we are blessed with relatively easy access to Barton Springs pool (there is of course a certain amount of skill involved in first finding a parking space!).  Once you’ve tackled parking, you’re in for a real treat of natural spring hydrotherapy.

For those who don’t know (or just haven’t gotten around to it yet) Barton Springs Pool is a natural pool that is part of Barton Creek in South Central Austin.   The pool is fed from underground springs that keep the water the same temperature year round, averaging about 68-70 degrees Fahrenheit. This is no cryotherapy cold plunge, the water is nowhere near freezing, though you’re still likely to hear several shrieks of shock as folks drop in for their first dip.  Rather, the water is just cold enough to help rid your body of inflammation without being so cold that you get completely numb and want to kill whomever dragged you there. This is also a great way to experience the cold of the water and its benefits while simultaneously experiencing the warmth of the sun and its benefits.   It’s a win win for you, and for the Barton Springs Salamander that calls the creek home.  


Self-Care: Hands Edition


If you have hands, they probably hurt.  My clients are often surprised by this, until I remind them that we use our hands for everything! **If you don't have hands, your wrists, forearms, etc probably hurt, in which case most of the following still applies**

So what can you do about it?

First and foremost, book a massage.  And when you’re talking with your therapist pre-session, make sure to mention that your hands hurt and that you’d like to have some work done there.  Your body has a lot of soreness to attend to during your session, so if you don’t mention a specific area, we might forsake it in the interest of spending more time on, say, your tired shoulders.  

Now that you have your massage booked, there’s actually a lot you can do for your tired hands in the meantime!



Depending on the level of inflammation and soreness in your hands (did you type a 20-page essay and then go rock climbing for 3 hours?), you may need to start with ice.  Use either a couple of ice packs, or a bowl full of ice water. When using ice packs, never apply directly to the skin. Instead, use a cloth or towel to protect your body’s largest organ.  Limit your cold therapy to about 10 minutes. Longer than that and you can actually trigger an inflammatory response from your body, thereby creating MORE inflammation, and MORE soreness.


Run warm water over some towels and then wrap them around your hands until the towels cool off.  Test the heat of the towels on the inside of your wrist, as this is your most temperature sensitive area, to avoid burning your hands.  Never use boiling water or a microwave, as they can get too hot or heat unevenly.



Add about 1 tbsp of epsom salt for 8 oz of water.  You won’t need much if you’re just soaking your hands.  Whole body sore? Try a whole body epsom salt bath. You’ll need about 2 cups of salt for a standard bathtub.  Make sure to soak for about 20 minutes to help rid your body of inflammation.


Whether using a soft ball to squeeze, silly putty, or just your average wall, stretching each finger and each individual joint in your hand will help increase blood flow, reduce inflammation, and get your hands back to feeling like themselves again.  


You can also use your hands to massage your hands (Whoa.).  You can even use some tiger balm, lotion or massage oil to make your hands feel really pampered.  Use your opposite hand to clamp down on the webbing between each finger, especially the meaty muscle between your thumb and forefinger.  Take your time, and do what feels good. There isn’t really a wrong way to do it. Just know that just because something hurts doesn’t make it good for you (more on that in a future post!).  In fact, if your self-massage hurts in a bad way, you should probably stop. Sometimes massage hurts so good, but when it doesn’t, it’s ok to ease off and try another technique.