Wouldn’t it be nice to have a hot tub in your back garden? A place to find sanctuary and relax after a long day of training?
But did you know that, as an athlete, hot tubs can provide more than just an enjoyable experience? Hydrotherapy, also known as hot tub therapy, can also provide amazing health benefits that can contribute to enhanced performance in your sport. Alongside a great training program and a nutritious diet, regularly using the hot tub might be just what you need to take your sports game to the next level.
If you’re an athlete, you are probably more than aware of how important rest and recovery are when it comes to your training. You take one or two days off each week to allow your muscles to take a break from your intense regime. But you may not have considered using a hot tub as part of your fitness regime. However, the hot tub can provide a great addition to your rest days by helping to speed up your recovery and enable your body to fully relax.
Let’s take a deeper look into how hot tubs work, how often athletes or those who are regularly physically active should be using them, and their many benefits.
Hot Tubs and Hydrotherapy
Hydrotherapy involves using water to soothe aching muscles and relax the body to speed up recovery. It can also be used to relieve pain. The combination of air, water, and heat provides an incredibly therapeutic effect and it has been used in a number of health conditions and diseases.
These therapeutic effects are achieved due to the ability of hot water to open up the blood vessels. When your body is warm, the smooth muscle around your blood vessels relaxes and vasodilation occurs. This enhances the circulation of blood throughout the body, in particular to the skeletal muscles, speeding up their recovery.
Hydrotherapy has been around for years. It was used by Egyptians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans, who added essential oils and plant extracts to the water to enhance the therapeutic effects of the process. It is still used in the modern-day by healthcare professionals, athletes, and the everyday consumer.
Hydrotherapy has been used for several health conditions, including the following.
- Skin disorders, such as acne
- Rheumatoid arthritis and joint inflammation
- Headaches and migraines
- Stress and anxiety
How Often Athletes or Active Individuals Should Be Using a Hot Tub
There is no set figure for the number of times an athlete or highly active individual should use the hot tub. It depends on a variety of factors, including how often you train, how intensely you train, and your current health status. However, there are some guidelines that can help you out if you’re trying to determine a hot tub hydrotherapy regime.
Taking a quick dip in your hot tub prior to a workout or training session can help your body prepare for intense exercise. It helps the muscles to relax, improves blood flow, and loosens up the joints, ready for your workout.
Note that soaking in hot water may cause you to get dehydrated, so it’s important to drink a lot of water before you start your session. The hot tub should not be a replacement for your usual warmup, so you must remember to do this before you get into your full workout.
Getting in right after your session is not ideal because the hot water may further increase the inflammation in your muscles and it can cause you to become even more dehydrated than you already are. This can delay the recovery process.
It is recommended that you wait at least 24-48 hours after your training session to get optimal results from your time in the hot tub. By this point, your muscles are no longer inflamed and you’ve had a chance to rehydrate yourself.
Giving yourself a day or two to recuperate from your hard training session means you can fully enjoy your hot tub experience. Within just 5-10 of sitting in the hot water, your muscles will start to relax, and after 15-20 minutes, your body will start to gain the amazing benefits of hydrotherapy.
Benefits of Hot Tubs
There are countless benefits to using the hot tub as an athlete or an active individual.
1. Stress Relief
Taking a dip in your hot tub can provide some much-needed stress relief after a long day or a particularly hard training session.
The soothing motion of warm water flowing against your skin provides amazing therapeutic effects that can help you to destress physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Adding essential oils into the water can further enhance these effects. Essential oils are plant extracts that have been shown to provide a number of health benefits, including better mood, enhanced concentration, reduced insomnia, better immune function, and improved digestive health.
You could also play some relaxing music as you soak in the tub to further calm your mind.
2. Muscle Relaxation
The action of the water moving across your skin in a natural flow is extremely therapeutic. You can enhance the relaxing effects of the hot tub by switching on the jets, which blast out warm water onto your skin. This is a perfect way to relax tight or sore muscles, soothe aches and pains, and can speed up the recovery process after a tough workout.
3. Improved Cardiovascular Health
Since hot water can cause your muscles to relax and your blood vessels to dilate, it can improve the circulation of blood through your body. This can help to lower your blood pressure.
Cardiovascular disease is linked to chronic hypertension (long-term high blood pressure). Therefore, by using hydrotherapy to naturally lower your blood pressure, you can decrease your risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
Research suggests that just 10 minutes of using the hot tub can significantly lower the blood pressure in those with hypertension.
4. Improved Sleep
Another benefit to using hot tubs around your training sessions is the benefits it has on your sleep. Many athletes or gym-goers can find it difficult to sleep after a workout, especially if they are exercising later on in the day.
Studies show that those who relax in the hot tub around 1-2 hours before heading to bed find it easier to get to sleep and have much better sleep quality when they drift off.
This is why hydrotherapy is often used as part of treatment for insomnia.
The improvements in sleep can have a knock-on effect to improve muscle recovery. Everybody needs sufficient sleep to provide adequate rest time for the damaged muscles to recuperate. By spending that hour or two in the hot water, you can, therefore, speed up your recovery process.
5. Reduced Pain
Because hot water improves blood flow, it can reduce the level of inflammation in the muscles and around the joints. This can reduce any pain associated with muscle damage or stiff joints.
6. Enhanced Athletic Performance
Warming up the muscles and joints before your workout or sports game can enhance your performance by boosting the blood flow (and, therefore, the oxygen and nutrients) to the working muscles. Looser muscles and joints can lead to increased speed and agility, and enhanced overall performance.
As hydrotherapy decreases the amount of inflammation, it can improve your flexibility and the range of motion you can achieve around your joints. This can also contribute to better performance in the gym or on the field.
7. Treatment of Injuries
The enhanced circulation caused by hydrotherapy can aid the body in eliminating toxins or inflammatory mediators from the body. This can reduce symptoms of long-term illnesses, such as arthritis or fibromyalgia. It’s also extremely effective for those who suffer from chronic lower back pain as it soothes the tight, inflamed muscles in and around the area.
Heading in the hot tub just before your workout may also decrease your risk of sustaining an 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 raise your motivation. Endorphins also act as natural pain killers in the body, reducing your muscle soreness.
The Importance of Seeking Professional Advice
If you’re an athlete or a highly active individual looking to start using hydrotherapy as part of your regime, it’s important that you seek professional advice prior to jumping into the hot tub. The experts can advise you on when and how to use the hot tub to maximize its benefits.
Contact the experts at your local Sundance Spas dealership in the Netherlands to discover more and find the perfect hot tub for you.