You're in Hot Water: Heat Therapy Throughout the Ages
Today when you want to unwind, you might curl up with a warm, cozy blanket. But what did people do before there were such things as a luxurious spa or heated blanket close by? How did people ever get comfortable or relieve their tension? It turns out that heat was regularly used, just in a different form. Here's how some cultures used heat to relax thousands of years ago.
If you've ever stepped into a hot tub, you know how soothing it can be on your body and mind. That was likely the general feeling when people would step into a hot spring back in the day. A number of cultures, from ancient Japan to Jordan in Antiquity, would use the natural hot springs of their regions as their very own hot tubs. In fact, the city of Bath, England would use them for public baths and cleansing rituals!
Just as we often use saunas today as a way to relax, ancient cultures used sweat baths and hot air caverns to feel more comfortable. Native Americans in historic North America would fill an enclosed area with steam for an especially relaxing, spiritual experience. People in ancient Greece would even use volcanic caverns as a way of relieving tension, despite the fact that relaxation and volcanoes seem like contradictions.
You might consider a hot stone massage to be a luxurious, modern way to unwind, but early China has been doing it for thousands of years. The heat from the rock, combined with the slight pressure each one applies to the body, helps you instantly relax and relieve tension. Today, the stones are warmed to an ideal temperature and placed on certain points of the body for optimal comfort and relaxation.