Can a Hot Tub Help Back Pain?
Although primarily known for recreation, hot tubs can also be used to treat aches and pains. Can a hot tub help back pain? Soaking in a hot tub likely won’t cure back pain, but it can definitely bring some temporary relief. Hot tubs have long been prescribed by doctors and physiotherapists to help alleviate pain of all types. In this article we’ll describe how spending time in a hot tub allows the body to reduce the pain it experiences.
Although relaxation may be considered by some to be a form of recreation as opposed to a therapy, the relaxation experienced when soaking in a hot tub can act as an incredible pain reliever. On a physiological basis, immersing yourself in warm, massaging water triggers the production of pain relieving hormones. It also allows muscles to relax and reduces the severity of painful spasms and cramps that are so often associated with back pain. On a psychological level, when the mind is allowed to relax, the body is more likely to loosen up as well. With the combination of heat and massage, hot tubs are well known stress relievers. Whether you’re best able to attain peace of mind through solitude and quiet or by socializing with friends and family, a hot tub provides both physical and mental relaxation.
Getting the proper amount of rest allows the body to function and repair itself with greater efficiency. Lack of sleep has been found to be a factor in all sorts of negative issues including increased risk of disease, a poorly functioning immune system and the exacerbation of painful ailments. Back pain can cause a negative feedback loop where the more pain you’re feeling the worse sleep you’re experiencing. Ultimately this results in poor functioning healing processes and continued back pain. Spending time in a hot tub an hour or two before bedtime has been shown to cause drowsiness and lead to deeper sleep. If you have problems sleeping, a hot tub can be a drug free way to improve your sleeping patterns and help your body rehabilitate itself.
Spending time in the hot tub increases your internal temperature, which in turn, increases your blood flow. The heart rate speeds up, the blood vessels dilate and the blood flows more easily. This increased circulation allows oxygen, nutrients and hormones to reach damaged tissues and pain receptors more efficiently which improves the chances of healing and pain relief.
The massaging effects of the water jets can be especially effective in relieving back pain. Massage creates both physiological and mechanical responses in the body which can help relieve pain. Physiologically speaking, massage inhibits the production of stress causing hormones such as cortisol. It also lowers the breathing rate which helps the muscles and nerves around the chest and back to relax. On a mechanical level, massage stimulates blood flow and lymph circulation which increases the amount of oxygen reaching damaged tissues while eliminating pain generating waste products. Massage can also relieve pinched nerves and loosen tight muscles that are often associated with back pain.
The effects of water buoyancy on a sore back can be transforming. Compression of nerves, muscles and bones in the back is often a major source of back pain. Submerging your body in water can alleviate as much as 90% of your body weight. Sitting in a hot tub counteracts the force of gravity on your body and reduces pressure on your spinal column. This can reduce tension in the muscles, relieve compressed nerves and allow tissues to heal. If you’re experiencing back pain due to spinal cord compression, spending time in a hot tub may provide some relief.
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