While hot tubs are great simply for relaxing or unwinding after a long day, they can also provide relief from many common ailments like headaches or back pain. They do this with a combination of heat, buoyancy and massage therapy.
For most people, warmth is associated with rest and relaxation. What most people don’t consider is that heat can also be used for both pain relief as well as to improve circulation.
Heat opens up (“vasodilates”) your blood vessels, allowing blood to flow more easily throughout your body. This increased blood flow also means an increase in the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the muscles, which helps heal damaged tissue.
Heat also increases the “extensibility” of muscles and connective tissue, increasing flexibility and range of motion.
When you’re submerged in water, the effects of gravity are reduced by 90%. This reduces stress on your muscles, joints, tendons and ligaments.
According to the arthritis foundation, immersing yourself in water not only reduces the force of gravity that’s compressing the joint, it also provides support for sore limbs. This support can help decrease swelling and inflammation as well as increasing circulation.
Massage not only feels good, it also helps increase blood flow to the areas being massaged. This increased blood flow also helps clear out toxins that build up due to insufficient blood flow and can reduce pain and inflammation.
Individually, each of these elements are used in the treatment of various ailments. When combined in a hot tub, they are able to work together to provide a more thorough treatment. The relief coming from the buoyancy of the water combined with the cardiovascular benefits of heat and massage can help improve a variety of ailments, from stress to arthritis.
Hot tubs are the perfect stress relievers. First off, they take you away from the daily grind; letting you relax and clear your mind.
Not only that, the combination of heat, buoyancy and massage help to relax your muscles and relieve aches and pains; taking away tension in your body and allowing you to relax further.
Hot tubs are also able to help treat some kinds of headaches. The heat and steam of the hot tub water can help fight congestion and has been shown to help with sinus headaches.
By dilating the blood vessels, hot tubs can also decrease pressure in your head, easing headache symptoms.
Hot tubs warm your body. When your body is warm, you tend to fall asleep quicker and sleep better throughout the night.
Hot tubs also relieve muscle tension and allows your body to relax. The improved blood circulation from the heat and massage provided by the hot tub reduce inflammation and soothe tired, achy muscles. The less tense your muscles, the easier it is to fall asleep.
In some studies, regular hot tub use has been used to reduce blood glucose level in people with diabetes, although more research still needs to be done. What is undeniable is that hot tubs can help diabetes patients improve their circulation.
The combination of heat, buoyancy and massage work together to deliver more nutrient rich blood to the muscles. This reduces the severity of symptoms related to poor circulation that some diabetes patients experience.
Find yourself stiff or sore after a workout? Soak in your hot tub for 15-30 minutes! The combination of increased blood flow and decreased strain on your muscles and joints helps reduce inflammation and speed up the healing process.
REDUCED CHRONIC PAIN AND ARTHRITIS
Not only can hot tubs help relieve pain brought on by physical exertion, it can also be used to help manage chronic pain from conditions like arthritis.
According to Bruce E. Becker, director of the National Aquatics & Sports Medicine Institute, warm water therapy “makes the joints looser”. This decreases swelling and inflammation in the joints. Becker also says that warm water therapy “reduces pain and it seems to have a somewhat prolonged effect that goes beyond the period of immersion”.
Heat therapy is also a proven method for treating lower back pain. In an article on how heat can improve lower back pain Vert Mooney, Medical Director of U.S. Spine and Sport, stressed the importance of increased flexibility in treating back pain. Heat therapy, he explains, increases flexibility which in turn decreases stiffness. This combined with increased blood circulation brought on by a targeted massage, make hot tubs the ideal way to manage lower back pain.
PICKING THE RIGHT HOT TUB FOR THERAPY
As we have seen, hot tubs offer three health benefits; heat, buoyancy and massage. All hot tubs provide warm water and buoyancy. Not all hot tubs are created equal though and some are more suited to providing therapy than others.
How can you tell which hot tubs are better suited to therapy? The answer lies in the third benefit; massage. To truly experience the full health benefits of a hot tub requires that it delivers a great massage.
Massage quality is about more than the size of the pumps and the number of jets however. To deliver a truly therapeutic massage requires:
- Proper Jet Sizing. The bigger the muscle it’s meant to massage, the bigger the jet needs to be to massage it properly. Back jets, especially lower back jets, should therefore be as large as possible.
- Proper Jet Placement. Simply put, jets aren’t properly placed they’re not much use.
- High Flow Pumps. Forget about horsepower. The real statistic you need to know is the flow rate of the pump. While horsepower is simply a measure of the amount of electricity the pump uses, flow rate measures the amount of water it can move. The more water it moves, the stronger the massage.
Without all of these elements, you won’t experience the full therapeutic benefits that a hot tub can provide.
While many manufacturers focus simply on adding as many jets as possible, Hydropool Hot Tubs has been working with physiotherapists and sports therapists for years to provide the ideal therapeutic massage. Their work with these medical professionals has led them to focus on every aspect of producing a therapeutic massage experience.
On their own, heat, buoyancy and massage can help relieve many ailments from stress to arthritis. When combined in a hot tub however, they truly shine. There is a reason why hot water therapy has been used by humans for thousands of years!
Even those not suffering from chronic pain can enjoy the benefits of reduced stress, and improved sleep. The increased circulation brought on by the heat and massage can also help you recover faster after physical exercise!