A hip bath is a specially designed type of bath tub which is intended to submerge the buttocks and hips of the bather, who bathes sitting upright, as though in a chair. These baths have been used for centuries in Ayurvedic tradition, and they were also immensely popular in the Victorian era, when many Europeans flocked to institutions offering hydrotherapy. Some members of the medical establishment continue to use hip baths in patient treatment.
Some people also use the term “hip bath” to describe a deeper bathtub, in which more of the body is immersed, but the bather still sits rather than lies in the tub. This sort of hip bath was also very popular among the Victorians, especially those without running water, as it was small enough to fill with water from jugs. Some modern bathers also enjoy this sort of hip bath, since it is quite comfortable to lounge in for extended periods of time.
In the sense of a therapeutic bath, a hip bath is supposed to promote healthy circulation and stimulate the digestive tract. Patients may bathe in warm, tepid, or cool water, and various substances may be added to the water as well. In some cases, the bath also involves a vigorous rub down with a coarse cloth, which helps to slough off dead skin while also encouraging surface circulation.
Taking hip baths for healing might seem a bit odd, but it does have some very distinct health benefits. Women who suffer from cramping, for example, may find that taking a hip bath helps to relieve the pain. A hip bath can also be used to treat hemorrhoids and other painful inflammations and infections in the lower regions of the body.
A related concept is the sitz bath, which covers the buttocks specifically. Sitz baths are used to treat various inflammatory conditions such as fistulas, and also to ease the pain from surgical procedures in that area of the body. They can also ease recovery from giving birth, when women often experience pain and soreness. Typically a sitz bath is taken with warm water, and the bather soaks for 20-30 minutes.
Hip Bath Benefits
There are many benefits associated with hip baths, including improved circulatory and digestive function as well as the soothing effect it often has on the bather’s skin and muscles. When the water in a hip bath is hot or warm, it can kill bacteria located throughout the lower body, making it ideal for the treatment of skin infections. This also serves to improve your immunity while alleviating symptoms associated with illnesses such as the flu.
When the water in a hip bath is cold or tepid, however, there are many other benefits that you can take advantage of. A cold hip bath can help ease muscles that are aching, and it can alleviate pressure on your body’s central nervous system, too. It may also reduce inflammatory responses and benefit your vagus nerve.
All of these benefits ultimately improve the body’s strength while providing comfort to the bather. Due to the positioning of a hip bath, it’s also beneficial for any ailments affecting the lower extremities, genitals, or abdomen.
Conditions to Treat with a Hip Bath
There are many specific conditions that can be treated by a hip bath. One of the most commonly targeted ailments is the alleviation of piles and hemorrhoids that can cause significant discomfort. Because of the bather’s upright position in the bath, a hip bath is ideal for providing comfort and minimizing the symptoms of these conditions.
It can also be used to address the symptoms associated with painful menstruation. For men who are experiencing cramps and other physical discomforts, a hip bath can seriously improve their condition and minimize the pain associated with their period.
Muscular conditions are also great for hips baths. Sciatica, for example, can cause pain throughout the hips and buttocks. A hip bath targets this specific area and helps to relax the muscles that often trigger discomfort. Other conditions that cause nerve pain can benefit as well.
When Were Hip Baths Used?
Hip baths have likely been used throughout human history, but they were particularly popular throughout the 1800s and into the early 1900s. During this time, ailments affecting the lower extremities and genitals were particularly prevalent, so hip baths emerged as an effective treatment option to alleviate some of the most common sources of discomfort.
They were also common due to the lack of indoor plumbing that was common in this time. Hip baths can easily be filled by simply transferring water, so many households in this time featured a hip bath as an easy solution to hygienic concerns. Even after indoor plumbing became widespread, though, they remained popular in many homes.
Hip baths are still used in many places in the modern 21st century. In many cases, they are also called “sitz baths,” although the two phrases have slightly different meanings. Still, hip and sitz baths are still a staple of many cultures, and it’s easy to see why. In all likelihood, they will remain a popular option for people seeking relief from aches, pains, and ailments.