Wouldn't it be nice to have a spa in your backyard? A place to seek refuge and relax after a long day of exercise?
But did you know that spas for athletes can offer more than just an enjoyable experience? Hydrotherapy, also known as spa therapy, can also offer amazing health benefits that can contribute to improved performance in your sport. In addition to a great exercise program and a nutritious diet, regular spa use may be just what you need to take your sports game to the next level.
If you're an athlete, you probably know more than anyone else how important rest and recovery are when it comes to your training. You take one or two days off each week to give your muscles a break from your intense regime. But maybe you haven't thought about using a spa as part of your fitness regime. However, the spa can be a great addition to your rest days by speeding up your recovery and allowing your body to fully relax.
Let's take a closer look at how spas work, how often athletes or people who are regularly physically active should use them, and their many benefits.
Spas and hydrotherapy
Hydrotherapy involves the use of water to soothe aching muscles and relax the body to speed recovery. It can also be used to relieve pain. The combination of air, water and heat creates an incredible therapeutic effect and it has been used in a number of health problems and diseases.
These therapeutic effects are achieved thanks to hot water's ability to open blood vessels. When your body is warm, the smooth muscles around your blood vessels relax and vasodilation occurs. This improves blood circulation throughout the body, especially to skeletal muscles, accelerating their recovery.
Hydrotherapy has been around for many years. It was used by Egyptians, Persians, Greeks and Romans, who added essential oils and plant extracts to water to enhance the therapeutic effects of the process. It is still used by healthcare professionals, athletes and everyday consumers.
Hydrotherapy is used for a variety of health problems, including the following:
- Skin conditions, such as acne
- Rheumatoid arthritis and joint inflammation
- Headaches and migraines
- Stress and anxiety
How often athletes or active individuals should use a spa
There is no set figure for how many times an athlete or highly active person should use the spa. It depends on several factors, including how often you exercise, how intensely you train and your current state of health. However, there are some guidelines that can help you when trying to determine a hydrotherapy regimen.
A quick dip in your spa prior to a workout or training session can help your body prepare for intense exercise. It helps relax muscles, improves circulation and loosens joints, ready for your workout.
Keep in mind that soaking in hot water can cause you to become dehydrated, so it is important to drink plenty of water before you begin your session. The spa should not replace your usual warm-up, so remember to do this before you begin your full workout.
Getting in right after your session is not ideal because the hot water can further increase inflammation in your muscles and cause you to become even more dehydrated than you already are. This can slow down the recovery process.
It is recommended that you wait at least 24-48 hours after your workout session to get optimal results from your time at the spa. At this point, your muscles are no longer inflamed and you have had a chance to rehydrate yourself.
If you give yourself a day or two to recover from your hard workout session, you can fully enjoy your spa experience. Within just 5-10 minutes after you sit in the hot water, your muscles begin to relax, and after 15-20 minutes your body begins to experience the amazing benefits of hydrotherapy.
Benefits of spas
There are countless benefits to using the spa, not just as an athlete or active person, everyone benefits.
1. Stress Relief
Taking a dip in your spa can provide much-needed stress relief after a long day or a particularly strenuous workout session.
The soothing motion of warm water flowing against your skin offers amazing therapeutic effects that can help you de-stress physically, mentally and emotionally.
Adding essential oils to the water can further enhance these effects. Essential oils are plant extracts that have been shown to provide a number of health benefits, including improved mood, improved concentration, reduced insomnia, improved immune function and improved digestion.
You can also play some relaxing music while in the spa to further calm your mind.
2. Muscle relaxation
The action of the water moving over your skin in a natural stream is extremely therapeutic. You can enhance the relaxing effects of the spa by turning on the jets, which spray warm water onto your skin. This is a perfect way to relax tense or aching muscles, relieve pain and speed up the recovery process after a hard workout.
3. Improved cardiovascular health.
Because warm water can cause your muscles to relax and your blood vessels to dilate, it can improve blood circulation throughout your body. This can help lower your blood pressure.
Cardiovascular disease is associated with chronic hypertension (long-term high blood pressure). Therefore, by using hydrotherapy to lower your blood pressure naturally, you can reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
Research shows that just 10 minutes of spa use can significantly lower blood pressure in people with hypertension.
4. Improved sleep
Another benefit of using the spa around your workout sessions is the benefits it has on your sleep. Many athletes or sportswomen find it difficult to sleep after a workout, especially if they are working out later in the day.
Studies show that those who relax in the spa about 1-2 hours before going to bed fall asleep more easily and have much better sleep quality when they fall asleep.
Therefore, hydrotherapy is often used as part of the treatment of insomnia.
Improvements in sleep can have a knock-on effect to improve muscle recovery. Everyone needs enough sleep to give damaged muscles enough rest to recover. So by spending an hour or two in the hot water, you can speed up your recovery process.
5. Less pain
Because hot water improves blood flow, it can reduce the level of inflammation in muscles and around joints. This can reduce any pain associated with muscle damage or stiff joints.
6. Improved athletic performance
Warming up the muscles and joints before your workout or athletic competition can improve your performance by boosting blood flow (and thus oxygen and nutrients) to the working muscles. Looser muscles and joints can lead to greater speed and agility and better overall performance.
Because hydrotherapy reduces inflammation, it can improve your flexibility and range of motion around your joints. This can also contribute to better performance in the gym or on the field.
7. Treatment of injuries
The improved blood circulation caused by hydrotherapy can help the body remove toxins or inflammatory mediators from the body. This can reduce the symptoms of long-term illnesses, such as arthritis or fibromyalgia. It is also extremely effective for people suffering from chronic lower back pain, as it soothes the tense, inflamed muscles in and around the area.
Going to the spa just before your workout can also reduce the risk of injury by warming up your body and increasing blood flow to the muscles prior to your session.
8. Improved mental health
Hydrotherapy can stimulate the release of endorphins, such as serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin, in your brain. This can boost your mood and increase your motivation. Endorphins also act as natural painkillers in the body, reducing your muscle pain.
The importance of seeking professional advice
If you are an athlete or a highly active person who wants to start using hydrotherapy as part of your routine, it is important that you seek professional advice before jumping into the spa. Experts can advise you on when and how to use the spa to maximize its benefits.
Contact the experts at your local Sundance Spas dealer nationwide to discover more and find the perfect spa for you.