The Kneipp method takes its name from the German abbot, Sebastian Kneipp, who invented it in the nineteenth century. This method is based on the healing power of water. In particular, the Kneipp method requires that you undergo jets of hot water and cold water alternately with important benefits for the health of the body. Kneipp experimented with his theories on himself. In fact, having fallen ill with tuberculosis, which at that time was almost always synonymous with death, he tested the benefits of cold baths, lasting a few moments, in the Danube and then ran home to warm up, in a first and rudimentary form of hydrotherapy. However, although his methods were still crude, Abbot Kneipp following this method recovered and so he decided to make his method known to everyone, so that as many people as possible could benefit from it. Science has also been interested in the Kneipp method, demonstrating interesting benefits for the health of the body and mind. So let's try to understand how the Kneipp method works and what health properties it is characterized by.
Kneipp method, what it consists of and benefits
The Kneipp method consists, after having heated the part of the body to be treated, in exposing oneself to cold water just enough to stimulate blood circulation, followed by a jet of hot water to warm the zone again (Czeranko et al, Integr med, 2019). The purpose of this technique is to reactivate and improve blood circulation, reduce water retention and tone the blood vessels. Not only that, the Kneipp method supports and regulates the immune system, improves the body's resistance and adaptability to stress and external factors, counteracts insomnia and depression and also protects the joints (Schenking et al, BMC Musculoskelet Disord., 2009).
Kneipp method and osteoarthritis
The Kneipp method has shown benefits in case of knee osteoarthritis, reducing the pain of the affected joint and improving flexibility and thus also the quality of life. Not only that, the Kneipp method was found to be more effective than physiotherapy in achieving these goals (Schenking et al, J Integr Med, 2013).
Kneipp method against colds
Waking up in the morning and directing on the arms, starting from the back of the hands and then rising up to under the shoulder, a jet of hot water, then cold, then hot again, has shown, in children and adults, to reduce susceptibility to respiratory infections such as colds. It is believed, in fact, that a poor adaptability to external temperature can cause a reduction in blood flow in the upper respiratory tract and a reduced resistance of the mucosa to pathogens. The Kneipp method, on the other hand, increases the body's resistance to temperature changes and stimulates the body's natural defenses (Schulte et al, Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 2021).
Kneipp method and cognitive functioning
In general, alternating a hot shower, then cold and then hot again on the whole body and especially in the neck and face region, has been shown to improve cognitive function, even in the elderly (Doering et al, Research in Complementary and Classical Natural Medicine, 2001).
Kneipp method at home
The Kneipp method is divided into several possible applications, some to be practiced in specialized and equipped centers, such as walking in water paths at two temperatures, one cold around 20° C and one warmer around 30° C, tiled with river pebbles, but also saunas followed by immersions in hot water. Alternatively, we can also benefit from the Kneipp method at home. Enter the bathtub and use the hand shower to direct a jet of warm, but not too hot, water onto your legs. The distance at which to hold the hand shower should be about 30 centimeters and you should perform a movement that goes from the feet to the groin. After a few minutes, direct a jet of fresh water on the legs, always performing the movement from the feet to the groin, and finally end with a jet of hot water. The time spent under cold water should always be less than the time spent under hot water. The same treatment can also be performed on the arms, as we have seen.