Hot Tubs: Your Personal Hydrotherapy

Very few people would say no if they were asked “Want to go hot tubbing tonight?”  (Unless, of course you were asked by someone you didn’t know, or you had a previous engagement that you could not break.)  The idea of slipping into a warm, relaxing hot tub sounds like absolute bliss: the warm water flowing around your body as you breathe deep, letting go of the stress of work, family, and life.  Did you know that this blissful relaxation is actually used to promote healing and relaxation in physical therapy?  Use of water and hot tubs in physical therapy is called hydrotherapy.

What is Hydrotherapy?

Hydrotherapy is physical therapy, massage, and healing that is done in the water.   Being submerged up to your neck takes away 90% of your body weight, allowing those who cannot support their weight to exercise, or to avoid further injury.  Hydrotherapy also relaxes your muscles, allowing you to let go of tension and stress.   Often, hydrotherapy is done in a warm or hot pool or spa.  The heat in the hot tub raises core temperature, causing blood vessels to dilate, increasing circulation and blood flow.  That increased blood flow increases the rate at which it delivers nutrients and removes toxins to muscles and joints. Hydrotherapy is useful to promote healing to both the body and mind.

When is Hydrotherapy Used?

Hydrotherapy has been used since ancient China, Japan,  Egypt, Greece,and Rome.  People would take baths in hot springs or communal baths to ease their ailments.  Today, hydrotherapy is used by many sports physical therapists to promote healing after injury, and to relax muscles if they are stiff.   A lot of people who are injured cannot participate in weight bearing activities, and hydrotherapy allows them to condition their muscles without the weight of gravity.  You can also work out the stiffness in joints using the resistance of the water for exercise without increasing the risk for further injury.  For example, injured runners can run on an underwater treadmill to work out their joints and muscles without risking further injury from the impact.  Or, many sports enthusiasts climb into a hot tub to relax tense muscles and stiff joints after strenuous physical activity.

What About My Hot Tub?

While your hot tub may not be an underwater treadmill, it still has many of the health benefits above.  It gives you a feeling of weightlessness, stimulates your circulation, sensory impulses, and relaxes stiff joints and muscles.  If you participate in more physical exercise than you normally do, you can easily benefit from jumping into a hot tub to relax afterwards.  The jets also are a form of hydromassage, giving you many of the same benefits as going to a massage therapist.  Your hot tub allows you to participate in  your own personal hydrotherapy at any moment.


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