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Letting in Steam: How the Heat of the Hammam Can Heal

A hammam in Marrakech can heal the body and mind in various ways. The skilled touch of a hammam practitioner, the soothing properties of essential oils, the scrubbing action of the kessa glove – all of these elements rejuvenate and renew a person. 

However, an overlooked aspect of the hammam’s healing power is the steam and heat it generates. Many are familiar with heat therapy and its benefits, especially users of saunas and heating pads. 

The hammam brings a variety of health, fitness and wellness benefits thanks to its generous output of steam and heat. And if you plan on visiting Marrakech, we recommend a trip to the hammam for this reason. 

The Science of Heat Therapy & Its Benefits 

Heat is an analgesic (pain reliever) because it sedates and soothes nerve endings which contribute to sensations of pain. This in effect blocks the transmission of pain signals to the brain and quickly leads to feelings of relief. That’s the reason why it’s not uncommon for someone to use a heating pad to reduce the pain of a back cramp or spasm. 

Also, heat has the ability to increase blood flow to a damaged section of tissue. With an increase of blood flow to the injured area, healing nutrients (assuming you’re getting enough of them) will have an easier time reaching the injured spot and flushing out debris. This speeds up your natural rate of healing. 

Heat also increases the elasticity of tissue, allowing tense muscles to relax with more ease – the solution to uncomfortable tension. 

Additionally, when deep heat is applied to your body, it stimulates your metabolic rate and speeds up your body’s ability to heal itself. There’s simply more energy for it to heal from an injury. 

The benefit of heat therapy is that it’s a low-cost, virtually side-effect-free means to stay healthy and recover from an injury or reduce pain caused by illness. Heat is a welcome alternative to prescription drugs, which can lose effectiveness due to tolerance and more concerningly, lead to dependence. 

General Health & Wellness Benefits 

No matter how healthy you are or may feel, your body is a constant state of wear-and-tear and conversely, repair and recovery. For example, your skin will succumb to wrinkles, lines, dryness, discolouration and more. Your muscles may get stiff, tense or feel less flexible than they used to be. This, of course, is the ageing process at work. Nevertheless, you can slow down and to some extent, reverse these effects with heat. 

How Hammam’s Heat Therapy Benefits Everyone 

  • Relieves sinus congestion – It may come as no surprise that steam and heat open clogged airways. It’s why a hot bath and steaming cup of tea feels so good when you’re sick with a cold or flu. 
  • Removes dead skin cells – Heat is underrated as a skin treatment. However, it’s a powerful one because it dilates the pores, making it easy for them to eject impurities. Additionally, with the improvement of blood flow, proteins and essential nutrients can reach the skin more readily and remove waste products. 
  • Relaxes the muscles – As was mentioned above, heat has the ability to unwind tense and knotted muscles. If tension or spasms is an ongoing issue, then the hammam can help you reduce or in some cases, remove your pain. 
  • Increases blood circulation – We also mentioned above that heat improves blood flow throughout the body. This is important for various processes such as detoxification and the nourishing of bodily tissues, both of which are essential for rapid healing.  
  • Facilitates a better mind-body connection – Although this one may be more indirect, people tend to take more controlled, deliberate breaths, which is incredible for mindfulness and stress relief. 

Benefits for Sufferers of Chronic Illnesses

Back in 2013, a report revealed that a staggering 95% of the global population suffered from some sort of chronic condition. Only 1 in 20 were disease-free. Obviously, the world needs healing! Fortunately, heat therapy and the hammam can provide significant benefits to sufferers of chronic illnesses including: 

  • Osteoarthritis  
  • Fibromyalgia 
  • Bursitis 
  • Chronic back pain 
  • Stress/anxiety-induced muscle tension 

There is now ongoing research into heat therapy and its potential to boost mitochondrial function. When our cells’ mitochondria get a boost, the body can heal and even protect itself against disease. With that said, much further investigation is required, but these studies are a testament to the medicinal power of heat. 

For now, what we can say is this: if you experience chronic pain on a daily basis take comfort knowing that a visit to the hammam may give you some much-needed relief. 

It’s worth noting, as a disclaimer, that excessive heat is NOT safe for certain medical conditions. So if you have a health chronic health condition (such as heart issues), make sure to get clearance from your doctor before visiting the hammam. 

How Steam Benefits Athletes 

An athlete’s body takes a beating on a regular basis. Whether it’s from intense workouts or hard tackles and hits, sports lovers and fitness buffs can over-exert themselves, increasing their risk of injuries. These injuries can range anywhere from localized stiffness and soreness to more severe injuries such as torn ligaments and fractures. 

Of course, heat therapy can’t heal deep injuries such as ligament tears or broken bones alone – they require casts or surgical interventions. However, heat therapy can provide significant relief to an athlete dealing with the aches and pains associated with many injuries. 

That means athletes can take heat therapy in the form of a hot bath such as the hammam. The heat from the hammam’s steam can loosen tense muscles and help improve circulation to damaged areas for faster healing. 

Additionally, athletes can use heat therapy as a preventative/training measure against heat-related illnesses. For example, athletes from cooler climates may be in for a shock if they have to compete in a tropical/hotter climate. Exposure to a hot environment such as the hammam can help them acclimatize to hotter temperatures before they set foot in those countries. As a result, this pre-exposure can protect them against heat exhaustion and heatstroke. 

The “H” in Hammam 

Heat therapy is a versatile treatment that can address a wide range of health concerns ranging from the maintenance of general wellness to pain management. It can serve as both a healing method against the aches brought on by chronic illness and athletic injuries. The heat therapy that steam delivers can also condition the body to prepare it for hot climates so as to protect it from detrimental effects.  

Marrakech hammam, which is abundant in steam, can serve as a cost-effective and relaxing form of heat therapy, providing you with the benefits mentioned above. If you will soon visit Marrakech and have health, fitness or wellness concerns, make sure to pay the hammam a doctor-approved visit. Your mind and body will thank you!