One of the many forms through which water exerts its benefits on the human body is Kneipp Walking: what is it? In practice, it is a treatment based on hydrotherapy, during which one is subjected to alternating immersions in hot and cold water, which have two different positive actions on the body. Hot water facilitates relaxation, while cold water tones and invigorates: alternating temperatures and different pressures on the body exert remarkable therapeutic effects.
Prevalent today among the treatments offered in the most prestigious Spas, Kneipp Walking can also be recreated at home: discover its origins and all its benefits for the human body.
What are the origins of Kneipp Walking?
The therapy that famously became known as “Kneipp Walking” has ancient origins dating back to 19th century Bavaria. The name of the treatment came from its inventor, Sebastian Kneipp, a priest who lived in Bad Wörishofen – a spa town near Munich – who managed to cure his tuberculosis after several months of hydrotherapy.
Experienced by Kneipp personally with the alternation of a cold bath in the Danube and a run to counteract the cooling of the body, the therapy was soon refined and the priest created a system of tanks in his own home that exploit the same principle of hot-cold alternation. Many of these tanks, ancestors of sophisticated structures used today in the best thermal bath centers and in Spas, are still visible in the bath of Sebastian Kneipp’s old residence.
Kneipp walking and its thousands of benefits
Nowadays Kneipp walking is offered in many variants, although the basic principle remains the same: you walk barefoot first in hot water then cold, passing not just through artificial tanks, but at times also through brooks and streams that wind through idyllic natural landscapes.
The benefits for the body? Thermal shock and different water pressure on the body stimulate blood flow and the metabolic system, while strengthening the immune system. Kneipp walking usually starts by immersion in hot water – which in some establishments means the whole body and not just the legs or ankles – that gives those who undergo hydrotherapy a strong feeling of relaxation. Immediately afterwards you pass over to cold water in the form of a shower or a walk on pebbles that shocks the whole body, thus toning your legs and stimulating excellent drainage that helps with swelling and water retention.
Not just at the Spa: creating the Kneipp walk at home
The benefits of Kneipp walking are not only reserved for those who go to a thermal bath center or a Spa specializing in hydrotherapy: recreating it at home is simple, even if you have adopt a few little tricks to protect your health.
Cold treatments – shower or immersion – must be very short and concentrated on the areas of the body that are already hot. Otherwise, you run the risk of hurting yourself instead of benefiting from the therapy. To fully enjoy the positive effects of the therapy, especially when practiced at home with the alternation of short hot and cold showers and baths, experts advise to pair hydrotherapy with daily physical activity and to a proper diet.