An alternate footbath involves the use of two bowls of water (one hot, one cold) into which the patient’s feet are placed alternatively. The experience of moving between temperatures creates a sensory experience that gently awakens an inner equilibrium that particulary supports the Sense of Balance and the Sense of Warmth. Children find this a fun activity. The parent need not explain the therapeutic effect to children as this may influence how the children experience it for themselves.
It also helps to increase circulation, immunity and lymphatic drainage.
- A large (feet size) bowl or bucket of hot water
- A large (feet size) bowl or bucket of cold water cold water
Rectangular sink-size buckets usually fit two feet and are easier to carry than a round bowl, that more easily bounces against the torso when being carried.
Fill one bucket 2/3 full with water below body temperate (like cold water in winter). If doing this in a very hot climate you may need to use iced water from the refrigerator. Fill the other bucket 2/3 full with water above body temperature, but not so hot as to burn. The water temperature in each bucket will blend with the process below, so have a cold and hot supply ready to top up the buckets
Position the buckets on towels in front of a chair or stool, or in a water resistant area that is also in a moderate to warm environment. Remember the patient’s feet must be able to reach the bottom of the bucket. Manage the impact of the outside temperature by covering the shoulders with a towel or blanket if the room temperature is below about 25°C (75 °F).
The patient’s legs must be unrestricted and bare so that they are comfortable and clothing will remain dry. Place the feet in the warm water for 2 – 3 mins, then immediately into the cold for 1 min. Then back into the hot for 2 – 3 mins and so on for about 3 sets. Finish in the warm water. Maintain the water temperature with each change.
After having treatments that bring harmony to the sensory system, it is always best to rest for a little while to allow the treatment to be integrated.