Water, when applied to the body at temperatures below or above the normal temperature of the body stimulates nerves to send signals to muscles, vessels, glands and organs – this is known as the reflex arc. All fluids of the body, i.e, blood and lymphatic are a closed circuit. As such, anytime you impact one part of the body it will have an impact on other parts. Moist applications have a longer duration of action and have the added benefit of penetrating deeper into the skin and impacting the vessels instead of just the muscle or skin.
How it works…
When cold damp socks are initially applied to the feet they cause an initial vasoconstriction response followed by vasodilation. The thermic reaction of the body is to increase heat production to combat the cold stimulus. The vasodilation response is the desired response as it dilates the vessels and increases the blood flow to the feet, thus draining the head. The reaction to the heat is also relaxing and can improve sleep. The local and reflex increase in blood flow through the feet aid in the decongestion in internal organs, aids in the draining of lymphatic tissues and stimulates the immune system.
Warming socks are often indicated when there is congestion or inflammation in the sinuses and head, especially when associated with a cold or flu. Warming socks are often done prior to bed with the intention of having the added benefit of increasing the overall temperature of the body. Induction of a fever and stimulating internal movement within the body is the natural way for the body to stimulate healing.