Dry Friction Bath
( Originally Published 1904 )
Heretofore I have commented at some length on the necessity of maintaining a clean skin and a healthy condition of its thousands upon thousands of little pores. On various occasions I have advised my readers in regard to dry friction baths, but until now no attempt has been made to give detailed instructions as to how these baths may be taken.
I intend that this chapter shall fully and thoroughly fill the need that may have been felt by my readers in their desire to comprehend to the utmost not only the methods of taking such baths, but the advantages that accrue from them.
It is nearly ten years since I had my attention first called to the benefits to be obtained from friction of the skin with a dry towel or soft bristle brush. Knowing of my interest in physical culture, a man in his seventies called upon me for the purpose of discussing the value of friction as a remedial agent. He did not appear to be more than fifty or fifty-five,
"When I was about twenty years of age, I was given up to die from consumption. My physician, relatives and friends said they were sorry, but that there was really no hope for me. Nothing more could be clone; I had to die. Well, fortunately, I had a will of my own, and when they seemed so positive that there was no hope for recovery I made up my mind
"In searching for a cure, I somehow acquired the idea that the skin was the great eliminating organ of the body. The more I thought of this theory the more convinced I became of its truth, and finally I concluded to adopt some method of awakening the functional processes of the skin to greater activity.
"Well, I did not know what to do, and I may have started on a rather rough regime, but I went out and bought a horse brush!
I started on a rather rough regime, but I went out and bought a horse brush!
"Remember, I was determined to get well. I took that horse brush home and tried to brush my delicate skin. You can readily imagine my headway in the beginning. I could hardly touch my body with the stiff bristles of this brush, but somehow or other I had faith in this remedy. Day by day I was able to apply the brush a little more vigorously over the en-tire surface of my body. My skin finally became accustomed to the rough treatment, and I spent several minutes each day in going all over my body with the stiff bristles.
"Well, I improved gradually at first. By the time l: got so that I could use the horse brush vigorously I felt a great deal stronger, and it was not many months before I was a well man. I am satisfied that I cured myself of consumption with that horse brush."
This old man showed me the skin of his body in various parts, and it was as smooth and soft as velvet. It was the most emphatic exemplification of the benefits of the dry friction bath that I have had presented to me. It was a lesson of very great value. Here
Your skin must be alive! The skin really breathes; it absorbs oxygen and throws off impurities, just as do the lungs.
Showing position to be assumed in rubbing the inside of the leg. Bring the towel hack and forth over the kg at the extreme upper part of the inside upper leg; rub the leg down to the ankle. Same exercise with position reversed. (For muscles of the forward part of the shoulders and biceps of the upper arms to be in a far from satisfactory condition. Nowhere is the value of currying more recognized than in the United States cavalry. Many troop commanders insist upon grooming for three-quarters of an hour in the morning and the same length of time in the after-noon. When out on frontier scouting expeditions, it has been invariably found that the commander who insisted most rigorously on the grooming of his horses, headed the most effective troops. Well-groomed horses could stand anything that their riders could go through.
The pores of many persons manifest but little activity. They wear very heavy clothing, the air rarely comes in contact with the skin, and circulation and the functional processes are therefore performed very poorly. The skin becomes rough and coarse, almost like sandpaper to the touch, or moist and clammy. almost dead. A perfectly healthy skin is smooth and soft like satin, and in order to acquire and maintain the surface of the body in this condition not only is a proper diet essential, but dry friction baths of some kind must be regularly taken. Perfectly pure blood depends largely upon open and active pores. Many diseases can be avoided if you have an active skin to assist the depurating organs of the body.
The best time to take a friction bath is immediately on arising. If you take any exercise it should precede not follow the bath. The various ways of using the towel, which will enable one to thoroughly rub every part of the body, are illustrated in this chap-ter. The average individual will imagine that he can rub himself all over without instructions of this character, and no doubt, to a certain extent, this is true; but if the friction bath is taken as herewith described, and its effects compared with the ordinary rubbing that is done without any definite knowledge of the subject, one will very quickly learn the value of thoroughness in this connection.
Not only do the methods that I have advised thoroughly awaken every part of the surface of the body, but they exercise nearly all the muscles of the arms, chest, and the back between the shoulders. In fact, if one will vigorously go through all these various motions, he will usually experience a certain amount of fatigue. In the description under each of the illustrations of this chapter I refer to the muscles that are exercised and developed by the movements shown. The friction bath can be taken with the ordinary Turkish or a friction towel. Care should be taken to secure good towels, as the cheap kind tear easily. Soft bristle brushes can be used, though one cannot secure quite as much exercise while using them as with the towels. It is advisable to follow the friction bath with a cold bath. The latter can he taken with a wet towel or wet sponge, or, if desired, immersion in a tub can take the place of these.