Can a Hot Tub Help Your Workout?
Workouts and hot tubs have long been paired together. After all, isn’t that half the reason that gyms and rec centers feature hot tubs? Well, it’s true that hot tubs can provide benefits to your workout, but timing is essential. Although you’re probably tempted to slip into the hot tub immediately following your workout, there’s a smarter way to do it.
Advantages of a Hot Tub Soak
The heat and stimulation of the hot tub increases circulation. This gets blood to sore and swollen muscles, which can help them recover faster, and decrease pain in the long run. Circulation can also counter the buildup of lactic acid, which will reduce cramping. Massages from jets can loosen and relax sore muscles, and the simple sensation of enjoying a soak might be just how you like to finish up your workout.
Disadvantage of a Hot Tub Soak
While the advantages sound really attractive, there are also dangers if you soak immediately after a strenuous workout. Immersing yourself in hot water can cause additional strain on your body, since your heart is trying harder to maintain your proper body temperature. It’s easy to get light-headed and dizzy if you don’t give your body a chance to fully cool down.
Some critics of the hot-tub soak argue that hot water will also increase the natural swelling that happens to your muscles after a workout, and it could make you feel more uncomfortable.
Timing is Everything
Good readers will notice that all of the disadvantages of a hot tub soak can be countered with proper timing. You can still enjoy the benefits of increased circulation and muscle relaxation if you allow your body enough time to cool down post-workout and then have a nice soak. Chalk that up to one more reason that having a hot tub at home is better than using the one at the gym.
Perhaps the best way to time your soak around your workout is to use it as an aid for warming up before your workout. Working out cold muscles is like stretching cold taffy. But if you warm up with a hot tub soak first, you’ll already prime your muscles to work and stretch. In fact, you could even start some mild stretches in the hot tub before your workout.
- Allow your body to fully cool down first.
- Limit your soaks to 15-20 minutes, unless you’re getting in and out of the tub to allow your body to cool off.
- Make sure that the water temperature is maintained at 104 degrees fahrenheit or cooler.
- Keep tabs on how you feel during your soak, and get out if you feel dizzy or close to blacking out.