Hot tubs have long been seen as luxury items to covet. The relaxation they provide gives them a luxurious presence, and it’s common to see them in multimillion-dollar homes. However, the use of hot tubs is becoming more and more mainstream, and it’s becoming more common to find them in homes across the country.
One group of people who can benefit greatly from hot tub use is athletes. Athletes push their bodies to the limit, whether it be for professional or recreational exercise. This can result in tighter, more aggravated muscles, which is exactly where hot tubs can be the most useful.
Hydrotherapy, also known as Water Therapy and Aquatic Therapy among various other terms, is hugely beneficial for athletes. This includes the use of hot tubs, as the combination of water, heat, and the gentle pressure of hot tub jets can work together to create the perfect environment for relaxed, pain-free muscles — every athlete’s dream.
This article will explain how the use of Hydrotherapy can benefit athletes in detail, as well as answer some common questions regarding hot tub use and Hydrotherapy for athletes. If you’re an athlete or are simply interested in gaining the benefits that hot tub use can bring, continue reading.
How Does Hydrotherapy Work?
Hydrotherapy is the use of water to treat or prevent a variety of ailments, both physical and mental. The scope of Hydrotherapy is almost as broad as the conditions it’s capable of treating; there are many ways to use it and to benefit from its soothing effects. From cold saunas to aquatic exercise, physical therapy tanks to your very own bathtub at home, there are a vast array of options for Hydrotherapy.
Some forms of Hydrotherapy are used for patients with Arthritis or other joint issues, offering a very low to no-impact form of exercise without risking injury. Others, still, offer relief from circulatory issues, Insomnia, Anxiety, and the list goes on.
Hydrotherapy works to relieve ailments with both the relaxing properties of being in water and the effects of the specific temperature on mood, pain, and other symptoms.
When it comes to hot tubs — for athletes in particular — Hydrotherapy is about soothing and relaxing. This is useful for both tired, achy muscles that have been working all day, as well as a preventative measure to “loosen up” muscles before exercise.
Either way it’s used, hot tub Hydrotherapy uses the presence of both heat and the pressure from the jets to allow muscles to relax back to their natural state, either easing the tension that may be present or preventing it from occurring too severely.
What are the Benefits of a Hot Tub?
Hot tubs offer a slew of benefits to both professional and recreational athletes. Several of them are listed here:
Warmups are usually a part of any proper workout. However, on occasion the warmup may not be thorough enough, or there may not be enough time to complete it. Taking a short soak in a hot tub before a workout can help to loosen and warm muscles up, giving athletes an advantage on days when warmups might not be on the schedule.
Reduce Risk of Pulling Muscles
Having warm or relaxed muscles when beginning a workout reduces the risk for muscle strain or injury. Having relaxed muscles creates an environment within the body that is more conducive to beneficial exercise, and “preps” the muscles for the movements they will be making.
This also eases the possibility of injury, as muscles that are “cold” are more likely to become strained than those that are relaxed beforehand.
Ease Existing Pain
Many athletes perform with old, unhealed injuries, bravely toughing it out the whole way through their workouts. A soak in a hot tub before exercise can help to reduce the risk of making the injury worse; as well as allowing them to exercise with less pain than they might experience if their muscles weren’t relaxed and warmed up first.
Help the Body Wind Down
Every athlete knows the adrenaline rush that comes with intense exercise, and many are familiar with the fact that it can often be hard to wind their bodies down afterwards. If the workout is long over but the adrenaline is still pumping, a soak in the hot tub can help communicate to the body that it’s time to relax.
Insomnia can be a frustrating issue for athletes, but a hot soak after a workout can be very helpful in alleviating this.
Everyone — athlete or not — knows ice and heat as the main go-to pain relievers, but heat trumps cold when it comes to relaxing sore muscles. While ice is beneficial in cases of inflammation and pain, a tight muscle will only be relaxed by warmth (in cases where swelling is present, ice should of course be used first, however).
Hot tubs are widely known as helpful to people suffering from back pain of various kinds, as this is the perfect example of cramped or tight muscles that benefit from the relief of heat.
Get Ahead of Potential Injury
There are times when an injury might not show itself right away, either due to lingering adrenaline or other factors. Soaking in a hot tub after exercise could help to relieve muscles that may very well have been sore the next morning if the athlete went to bed without relaxing them beforehand. Allowing muscles to return to their naturally relaxed state before sleep is a great way to minimize, or even prevent, potential injury.
How Often Should a Physically Active Person Use a Hot Tub?
It’s safe and recommended to use a hot tub for at least 15 minutes several times a week. For athletes, it may depend on their workout schedule, as well as personal preferences. Because the warmth of a hot tub increases blood circulation as well as relaxing muscles and promoting overall relaxation, it’s considered a healthy habit to soak often. However, staying in longer than 30 minutes is not recommended, as it can contribute to drowsiness.
For example, an athlete may choose to soak for 15 minutes before their workout, and 20 minutes afterwards. First to ease any tight muscles and allow for a more effective workout while lowering risk of injury, and after to loosen up and relax muscles before sleep.
Or a swimmer might soak for 10 minutes in the hot tub before a cold plunge, giving them an extra edge on their swim thanks to the briskness of the water temperature after first warming up in the hot tub.
As you can see, it really all depends on the workout, the purpose of the hot tub use, and the athlete’s personal preferences. As long as the safety recommendations are followed, there’s really no set rules to how often an athlete can use a hot tub.
The Importance of Discussing with a Doctor First
As with any form of therapy — even the ones that seem harmless to most people — it’s important to discuss with your doctor whether it’s safe to use a hot tub. This is for a variety of reasons, including potential underlying health conditions, among other factors.
The temperature of a hot tub is higher than a regular bath, which makes it inadvisable to use for long periods of time. There are certain people who should not use hot tubs at all, so it’s important to make sure that it’s safe for the individual.
For example, pregnant women are generally instructed to stay away from hot tubs, as raising their body temperature above 101° Fahrenheit can be dangerous for the baby. Children younger than 5 (no matter how athletic they may be) should also not use hot tubs, due to the dangers of dehydration, fainting, nausea, and potential drowning. Yet another example is people with open cuts or wounds being advised to stay away from hot tubs.
Even if none of the general criteria applies, it’s advised to discuss with a doctor before using a hot tub. They’re informed on the health of their patients, as well as any potential risks that may be exacerbated by the use of hot tubs, for Hydrotherapy or otherwise.
The good news is that most athletes will be cleared after a quick conversation with their provider, allowing them to begin using Hydrotherapy to benefit both their workouts and their recovery.
Find Your Perfect Hot Tub Today
Hot tubs can be extremely helpful for engaging in hydrotherapy, especially for athletes whose muscles are pushed to their limits on a regular basis. If you found this article helpful and are interested in purchasing a hot tub for yourself, this information is here if you want to find out more.
You’ll find lots of answers to your questions, a qualified, friendly staff member can walk you through your options and decision-making process, and much more information about hot tubs!
To find out which hot tub is right for your therapeutic needs, browse our available hot tub models, get help with space configuration, and talk about financing options, contact us today!