Hot tubs are often considered a place of recreation, but they can also provide pain relief. From professional athletes to those suffering from medical conditions, hot tubs have long been used for hydrotherapeutic purposes. Pain resulting from strenuous workouts, disease and injury is often related to inflammation. Are hot tubs good for inflammation? In this article we’ll demonstrate how hot tubs and hydrotherapy can provide relief from pain caused by inflammation.
What Is Inflammation?
In general terms, inflammation is an immune system response to irritation. This irritation can be caused by disease, injury or exposure to contaminants including bacteria, viruses, chemicals or radiation. It usually manifests itself in swelling, soreness, heat, flushing and/or bodily dysfunction. Inflammation can result in the release of hormones which cause blood and fluids to rush to the affected areas in an effort to repair cellular damage. This is one of the reasons inflammation is often accompanied by redness, swelling and heat. Although often temporary, inflammation can also be a characteristic of chronic diseases such as arthritis, psoriasis and colitis.
Combating Inflammation Through Hot Tub Use
Spending time in a hot tub offers several different avenues for combating inflammation. The combination of heat, massage and water buoyancy can help with both physiological and physical functioning. Below are some of the ways that hot tub use can affect the body and its reaction to inflammation.
One of the main differences between a hot tub and a hot bath is the presence of massaging water jets. And as jet technology has advanced, the massage capabilities of hot tubs have improved as well. Manipulation of pain points can immerse inflamed tissues in oxygen and nutrient rich blood which can promote tissue repair and provide relief from pain. Not only is hot tub massage pleasurable, it can have curative effects as well.
The warm water of the hot tub can provide an anaesthetic effect. As the water raises the internal body temperature, the heart beats faster, blood vessels enlarge, and oxygen and nutrients are able to reach injured tissues more easily. The heat allows muscles to relax which takes pressure off joints, tendons and ligaments while reducing the pain caused by inflammation. This can result in increased mobility and an extended range of motion.
Both massage and heat can increase the flow of the blood while facilitating the circulation of oxygen and nutrients. Often those debilitated by inflammatory diseases find themselves unable to remain active. This can lead to a negative feedback cycle which further reduces activity and, in consequence, the flow of blood, oxygen and other vital elements. Spending time in the hot tub can reverse this negative feedback loop by increasing blood flow and reducing the debilitating effects of inflammation.
The upward force created by water can reduce pressure on the bones, joints and other tissues. Buoyancy essentially reduces the force of gravity on the body and makes it feel lighter. For those who suffer from inflammatory diseases such as arthritis, this pressure reduction can help lessen the stress on the joints and promote healing. Buoyancy can also help those with reduced mobility by allowing them to exercise more freely without having to worry about the effects of impact or the possibility of falling.
It may not be readily apparent but getting proper rest can also reduce the debilitating effects of inflammation. It’s been found that spending time in the hot tub an hour or two before bedtime can bring about sleep more easily. It can also lead to a longer, more uninterrupted rest. Combined with the promotion of relaxation and the relief from anxiety, the increase and decrease in body temperature associated with getting in and out of the hot tub causes drowsiness and sends signals to the brain that lead to sleep.
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