What makes Kneipp therapy so special?
Dornbracht in interview with Jochen Reisberger
Jochen Reisberger runs Germany’s Leading Kneipp and health resort, the Kneippianum in Bad Wörishofen. He is also part of the Dornbracht Healthness network of experts. He explains the Kneipp principle – and its all-embracing mode of action – in an interview.
How does Kneipp work?
Sanus per Aquam (SPA) – health through water. The positive effects of the element of water for body, mind and soul are many and varied. They have become well-established in traditional Kneipp treatments to improve the health and well-being of an individual over the long term. The different Kneipp applications range from affusions to washing to baths and foot baths. Deliberate changes in temperature – hot, alternately hot and cold, or cold – have either a calming, relaxing or stimulating effect.
It is not difficult to be able to benefit from the health-enhancing effects of Kneipp applications in your own bathroom either. It is easy to enjoy Kneipp affusions in the shower or at the washstand, for instance, with a Kneipp affusion pipe. Regularly applied, they can help to bring more balance to everyday life: recharging the batteries, reducing stress and reviving.
Kneipp therapy - Basic idea and position at Dornbracht
Kneipp expert Jochen Reisberger in interview with Dornbracht
What is the basic idea behind Kneipp therapy?
It is based on five pillars: water or hydro therapy, medicinal plant therapy, nutritional therapy,exercise therapy and the so-called lifestyle regulation therapy, which is to do with your way of life. It is the bracket that encloses all the other therapies. Its primary concern is for an individual to be mentally at ease with their own situation and with their social environment.
If you consider the five pillars: What role does water therapy play?
A crucial one. Firstly, it strengthens the body’s natural defences and the cardiovascular system. It also gives the blood vessels a good workout, boosts the metabolism and leads to a balanced autonomic nervous system. “Its primary concern is for an individual to be mentally at ease with their own situation and with their social environment.”
Is water therapy essentially always the same?
Not at all, water applications can be individually and subtly graded. They are always adapted to the individual and/or the particular situation. In other words, a course of Kneipp Treatment is an advanced and finely differentiated system that can be tailored to the particular constitution with great accuracy. All in all, there are about 120 different water applications in Kneipp therapy.
Can you tell us something about water applications and their mode of action?
Willingly – let’s take a look at warm affusions, for instance. They are performed at a temperature Between 37 and 40 degrees in the neck and back area. They are a gentle and effective way to help ease tense muscles. By contrast, cold affusions are administered in cases of hip and knee joint inflammation, or for vein disorders. The facial affusion, however, is a beauty Treatment. It improves blood circulation in the face and leads to firmer skin. The whole process only takes a matter of seconds: use an affusion pipe or hose to direct the water up and down your right cheek three times, then three times on your left cheek, and then across your forehead. Finish by making a further three rounds of your face. Not much effort involved, but the effect is obvious.
And the familiar contrast affusions?
The warm water part lasts for a few minutes and the coldwater part only lasts for a few seconds. Affusions administered at the start of a course of Kneipp Treatment are usually shorter. This allows the body to slowly get used to them. The specific temperature stimuli are then continuously increased as the course of Kneipp Treatment progresses. The thing about affusions is that generally speaking, if they are administered above the pelvis they have a stimulating effect, raise blood pressure, strengthen the cardiovascular system and enhance the body’s natural defences. By contrast, affusions administered below the pelvis have a calming effect, strengthen blood vessels and lower blood pressure. They also stimulate the body’s natural defences.
How does Kneipp baths work?
Full baths, for instance can have both a stimulating and calming effect. It depends which medicinal plants are added. The cold arm bath is also interesting, as it qualifies as a sort of “Kneipp espresso”, so to speak. It is very fast-acting, very refreshing and improves concentration.
Washing is anotherexample. These are early applications which – because of resting muscle tone – are carried out between five and six in the morning. The body is washed with a linen glove that has previously been immersed in cold water. Then the nightdress or pyjamas are put back on and it’s back to bed. The body is well wrapped up, so that it warms up immediately. You usually fall back into a deep sleep afterwards.
And what is the effect?
Washing in the Kneipp therapy context has a balancing effect on so-called mental and autonomic system swings. It also strengthens the immune system, regulates blood pressure and improves
blood circulation in the skin. “The cold arm bath is also interesting, as it qualifies as a sort of ‘Kneipp espresso’, so to speak. It is very fast-acting, very refreshing and improves concentration.”
You are part of the Dornbracht healthness network of experts, your knowledge is incorporated into the concept and development of the procducts and applications of Dornbracht Life Spa, for instance. In your eyes, what does the collaboration amount to?
In fact, the original Kneipp idea was to experience Kneipp and then to continue the experience at home, if possible, i.e. by incorporating it into the daily bathroom ritual. Given this fact, it seems a good idea to get together with Dornbracht to bring Kneipp therapy to private spaces as well. I am happy to help pass on the knowledge gained from Kneipp therapy – so that people can naturally integrate it into their daily routine and enjoy the benefits. Because in my view, a health-conscious lifestyle and improving physical and mental vitality are important elements of leading a fulfilling life. And that is my wish for everyone.
Perfectly matched water applications
The water effect is based firstly on the body’s reaction at different levels to changing temperature stimuli (hot/cold). The water does not just act locally, it can also affect internal organs or other parts of the body that are not being directly treated. “A foot bath, for example, can help with bladder infections, or an arm bath where the temperature gradually increases can boost blood flow in the legs”, explains Jochen Reisberger, the Spa Manager of the Kneippianum in Bad Wörishofen, who has many years experience of Kneipp hydrotherapy. Less is often more here, according to Reisberger. “The intensity of the stimulus is crucial to achieving the required reaction. The basic assumption is that gentle stimulation leading to an acceptable reaction is the best approach.”
Along with temperature, water pressure is also an ideal way to benefit health. The effective relief of tension is just one of the results achieved by the specific massage of pressure points, tense muscles or tendons (aquapressure). Water massage is easily integrated into your daily shower ritual at home, to help with your well-being and balance.
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