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Hydrotherapy Benefits and Hot Tubs

Updated on October 17, 2011

Hydrotherapy baths

Historically, man has always been drawn to water. I’m not talking about the fact that water is required for survival in the form of drinking water and water for crops and food animals. I’m talking about how humans enjoy immersing their bodies in water.

I can’t imagine a single person who doesn’t enjoy a refreshing shower or a nice bubble bath. Soaking in a warm bathtub both relaxes and rejuvenates us. Most everyone knows that warm or hot water has the power to relieve stress, but it has other capabilities, as well.

What is hydrotherapy?

The use of water for curative purposes is called hydrotherapy. Hydrotherapy baths have been used for thousands of years, even before the term was invented. The ancient Greeks often took therapeutic baths, and the ancient Romans turned the practice into an art, complete with public bath houses that provided hydrotherapy benefits. The ancient populations of China, Japan, and Egypt also enjoyed hydrotherapy baths. Native Americans believed that natural hot springs had amazing curative properties and often took their sick and wounded to the springs for hydrotherapy benefits.

In Europe, towns and spa resorts grew up around natural hot springs. For example, in Germany, the hot mineral springs of Baden-Baden became a popular site for royalty and aristocrats. In the UK, the city of Bath was established as a spa resort by the Romans in the year 43, even though the hot springs had been enjoyed before then. Every continent has hot springs that occur naturally.

My home state of Georgia has a rather famous hot spring that’s located about 100 miles south of Atlanta, in the town aptly named Warm Springs. The hillside springs were once used by the Creek Indians to cure their sick and wounded. When polio broke out later, many people, including President Franklin D. Roosevelt, believed the hot springs could alleviate their condition. Roosevelt was so impressed with the springs that he had the Little White House built nearby.

Hydrotherapy treatment can include applications of both hot or warm and cold water, but I’m not going the cover the uses of cold-water hydrotherapy in this article. I’m sticking to warm and hot water hydrotherapy like that found in a hot tub because that’s what I use and know the most about.

Benefits of hot tubs, spas, and hydrotherapy treatment

Of course, to achieve hydrotherapy benefits, people can visit an expensive spa, or they can turn their hot tubs into hydrotherapy tubs or thermospas. This is easy to do. All you have to tweak is the temperature setting to use hot tubs as hydrotherapy tubs or home thermospas.

Hydrotherapy treatment works in a number of ways, some of which even doctors don’t fully understand. For one thing, it’s the heat of the water that’s important in hydrotherapy benefits. Heat serves as sort of a tranquilizer for the body. The thermal effect slows down the internal organs and decreases the production of stress hormones. That’s one reason a warm bath or time spent in hot tubs or thermospas is so relaxing.

Another aspect of a hydrotherapy tub or spa tub is the weightlessness. Your body is temporarily relieved of the demands of gravity, giving muscles and supportive tissues a chance to rest. The weightlessness combined with the heat of the water has the ability to relieve fatigue and stiff joints.

When water moves, as it does in a hot tub or spa tub, the water essentially massages the body. Nerve endings just under the skin are stimulated, as are reflexes on the spinal cord. Muscles and nerves tend to relax, creating an overall soothing effect on the body. People who take a hot bath or relax in a hot tub shortly before bedtime report better sleep. They fall asleep more quickly, sleep more soundly, and are able to sleep for longer periods without waking after hydrotherapy baths.

In a hot tub, the water doesn’t just move, it moves forcefully via jets. The jetted water can be directed to aching muscles and joints, providing quick pain relief. And in most hot tubs and spa tubs, there are numerous jets in several locations, so more than one area of the body can be focused on at the time.

Since hot water causes the blood vessels to dilate, sitting in a hot tub can increase circulation. It’s also believed to remove wastes from tissues and to aid the immune system.

Does hydrotherapy really work?

The positive effects of hydrotherapy have been proven in several studies. In 1995, the British Journal of Rheumatology reported that hydrotherapy baths have both short and long term benefits to those suffering from back pain. Researchers in France also reported that back pain sufferers experienced greater flexibility and less pain when using regular hydrotherapy treatments.

In 1996, Arthritis Today reported that people with painful arthritis had less pain and needed fewer analgesics and anti-inflammatories when they followed a hydrotherapy treatment plan.

Hydrotherapy and back pain

I have a lot of back stiffness and back pain, especially lower back pain. Moist heat is a wonderful treatment for back pain, and my hot tub provides that. When I'm having lower back pain, I get in my hot tub and position myself so that a jet is aimed right at my lower back pain, and the relief is immediate!

Hot tub safety tips

- To relieve pain from arthritis, muscle spasms, strains, and backache, the temperature of the water should be 102-104 degrees. For hot tub safety, some doctors recommend keeping temperatures below 104 degrees.

-To relieve stress, the water temperature should be close to the temperature of the skin, about 94 degrees.

-Don’t get in a hot tub if you’re pregnant or think you might be pregnant.

- Don’t stay in a hot tub longer than 15 minutes at a time. This is an important part of hot tub safety.

- Children and the elderly should not get in a hot tub in which the water is heated to above 95 degrees and should stay in no longer than 10 minutes.

- Those with diabetes, heart disease, or high or low blood pressure should consult their physician before using a hot tub.


Hot tubs can serve as thermaspas.
Hot tubs can serve as thermaspas.

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    • profile image

      furniture assembly 6 years ago

      Oh this is really a great hot tub to be relax. I want that at my home too. I am super excited to buy like this kind of things to be at my place.

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Amy, I feel the same about my hot tub!

    • profile image

      Amy Appleton 7 years ago

      My hot tub saves me everyday after work. Twenty minutes in it makes me forget about my stress!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      I agree, Casey. My hot tub makes me feel so much better!

    • profile image

      Casey Ollson 7 years ago

      Glad to see an article on the hydrotherapy benefits of hot tubs! Hot tubs are beneficial in many ways and this is one of the top ones!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Audrey, I'm starting to think we're sisters. Aren't you from Oregon?? My dad was stationed there...hmmm...

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      I agree, Herbi! Wonder where the closest one to me is??

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Michael, you need to buy her one. Check into used hot tubs!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Screation, hydrotherapy helps my back for sure!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Austin, in the summer, I practically DO live in the water!!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Good to see ya, Aaron!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks, Jen, and I totally agree!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks, Granny. That hot water does wonders!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Bpop, just don't enjoy so much vino that you fall asleep in there! lol

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Aww, thanks, Gramarye!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Eth, like I told HH, buy a used hot tub!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      HH, buy a used hot tub!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks, Deb! Always good to hear from you!

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 7 years ago from Central Oregon

      oh yes, oh yes, oh yes! That is what saves me - I do not have an outside hot tub but I have an indoor jacuzzi - without it I would probably be paralyzed from my work - my tendinitis, my everything itis - and my sciatica - it saves me from myself....great information and it is so valuable. I have even had my physical therapist recommend a hot tub - I still need to look into if our insurance would buy that - literally!

    • theherbivorehippi profile image

      theherbivorehippi 7 years ago from Holly, MI

      Such an informative hub!! I could go for one of the hot natural springs!! That sounds so nice right now!!

    • Michael Shane profile image

      Michael Shane 7 years ago from Gadsden, Alabama

      Are you kidding Habee? There is all kinda of benefits for a "Hot Tub" LOL! My wife can spot one a mile away....

    • screation profile image

      screation 7 years ago

      Hydrotherapy is one of today's most popular treatments, not only for stress, but also for certain medical conditions and illnesses.

    • Austinstar profile image

      Austinstar 7 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      I would move to Hot Springs, Arkansas if I could! The baths there are incredible. Maybe next vacation I'll make the trip.

      I'm saving my pennies for a hot tub right now. I have a pool, albeit an above ground, and it helps in the summer, but I desperately want a huge hot tub and deck next to the pool! I could live in the water!

    • profile image

      AARON99 7 years ago

      A very welcrafted hub on the benefits of hydrotherapy and hot tubs. Hot tubs are so relaxing and have a soothing effect on our body. Well done. Enjoy.

    • JenDobson27 profile image

      JenDobson27 7 years ago

      Nothing like a nice dip in the hot tub during the winter! Nice hub Habee :)

    • Granny's House profile image

      Granny's House 7 years ago from Older and Hopefully Wiser Time

      When I hurt my back I could not exersise. I went to pain clinic and they had me do it in a heated pool. Wow was that great. Good hub as always. Keep them coming

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 7 years ago

      Hot tubs rock! A little wine while soaking doesn't hurt either!

    • gramarye profile image

      gramarye 7 years ago from Adelaide - Australia

      MMMM love hot tubs, love your hub!

    • ethel smith profile image

      Eileen Kersey 7 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Like Hello I can only dream :)

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

      Habee, that is one thing I would really love tp haved and envy people who can affort it. Thankyou for your informative. hub.

    • DeBorrah K. Ogans profile image

      DeBorrah K Ogans 7 years ago

      Habee, Great informative hub! A relaxing soak in the hot tub on a beautiful evening is the best! Oh the joy of spring and summer! Thank you for sharing, In His love Peace & Blessings!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Ann, great to see ya! Are you a night owl like me??

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Ooohh, Chris, I luvs me some hot tubbin', too!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks, Veronica, my friend!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      You're welcome, Pamela!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Sheila, you really should get one!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks for visiting, Coolmon!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      That's wonderful, Cari!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks for visiting, Art!

    • Ann Nonymous profile image

      Ann Nonymous 7 years ago from Virginia

      Sounds too good to be true! I can almost imagine myself in one...even owning one! Thanks for a great hub habee! I've missed HP these past few days but it's great to get in touch with you again through your hubs!

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Funny, Woody! And speaking of hot tubs, when ya gonna get yours up and running??

    • carolina muscle profile image

      carolina muscle 7 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

      I love me some hot tub. Great post, Habee!

    • Veronica Allen profile image

      Veronica Allen 7 years ago from Georgia

      Such great information habee. I really appreciate all the safety tips as well.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

      They feel so good. Thanks for the information.

    • sheila b. profile image

      sheila b. 7 years ago

      I've been thinking about a hot tub ever since your last hub. Boy, do I need it!

    • Coolmon2009 profile image

      Coolmon2009 7 years ago from Texas, USA

      I love hot tubs; thanks for the information.

    • Cari Jean profile image

      Cari Jean 7 years ago from Bismarck, ND

      My daughter has cerebral palsy with high tone in her legs and and arms and has benefited from hydrotherapy. It helps to relax those tight muscles so she's able to get more range of motion for her physical therapy sessions. It's kind of cute because she's the only kid in the pool and all the older people just love her!

    • artrush73 profile image

      artrush73 7 years ago

      Great hub I love hot tubs ;)

    • profile image

      Woody 7 years ago

      You don't stay in a hot tub more than 15 mins. at a time, but most people like them when it's cold outside. If they have to get out, how long should they stay out of the tub in the cold weather? I for 1 wouldn't want to stand around 1 freezing.