Approximately 43 million people in the United States suffer from some form of arthritis pain. The good news for these victims is that there are safe and effective ways to both minimize the discomfort and prevent further damage.
According to The Arthritis Foundation, “Regular sessions in your hot tub help keep joints moving. It restores and preserves strength and flexibility, and also protects your joints from further damage. A hot tub fulfills the need perfectly . . . providing the warmth, massage, and buoyancy that is so necessary to the well-being of arthritis sufferers. The buoyancy of the water supports and lessens stress on the joints and encourages freer movement.”
Italian researchers recorded in the Journal of Investigative Medicine in 1998 that the level of inflammatory agents that cause arthritis pain and joint destruction fell after three weeks of hot tub therapy.
Did you know that relaxing in a hot tub can help ease your body into a deeper sleep? According to a recent poll by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), approximately 132 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders. This number is on the rise as evidenced by the growing number of sleep disorder centers across the nation (approximately 3,000 in the U.S. today).
Sleep researchers believe that many cases of insomnia can be traced to hectic, stressful lifestyles lived by basically healthy people. The results of sleep deprivation are varied and can include battered nerves, grogginess, lapses in memory, depression, and even erratic mood swings. Rather than reaching for over–the–counter sleeping aids, a simple solution to this dilemma may be relaxing in a hot tub before bedtime. Studies suggest that soaking in hot tub before bedtime can ease the transition into a deeper, more restful sleep. This may be due to a temperature shift, since the body’s core internal thermostat drops after leaving the water, which signals the body that it’s time to sleep. Or, the sleep improvement may be related to hot water’s relaxing properties – the buoyancy of water reduces body weight by approximately 90%, relieving pressure on joints and muscles, creating the sensation of weightlessness. The hot, swirling water leaves you feeling both mentally and emotionally relaxed.
In addition, hot tub–induced sleep is a natural remedy, unlike alternative sleeping aids such as prescription drugs, over–the–counter remedies and alcohol – all of which can make you feel groggy and have other adverse side effects.
Back Pain/Muscle Injuries
Ask anyone who owns one and they will tell you that they feel better after using their hot tub. And there’s always been anecdotal evidence that the hot water and jets of a spa relieve back pain.
In 1995, a study published in the British Journal of Rheumatology offered evidence that hot tub therapy has both short– and long–term benefits for people with lower back pain. A later study, published in the Journal of Rheumatology by a group of researchers in France, showed that after three weeks of consistent hot tub therapy, examinations showed more improvement in the health status (as measured in pain duration and intensity and back flexibility) of the spa treatment group than of the medication-only group. After six months, significant improvement continued in the spa therapy group. In addition, their use of analgesics and anti-inflammatory drugs had decreased.
The preceding research information was featured in the March–April 1996 issue of Arthritis Today.
Recent studies published in the September 16, 1999 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine give new hope to the millions who suffer from diabetes. It stated that “hot tub therapy” helped a group of Type 2 diabetics reduce their blood sugar levels and improve sleep patterns.
An independent study led by Dr. Philip L. Hooper at the McKee Medical Center in Loveland, Colorado studied a group of Type 2 diabetes patients for three weeks. The patients were required to soak in a hot tub for thirty minutes a day, six days a week, for the duration of the study. The results were astounding! The patients' average blood sugar levels were reduced by an average of 13 percent, and one of the subjects was able to reduce his daily dose of insulin by 18 percent after only ten days of the study.
In reference to these findings, Dr. Hooper states that hot tubs are especially helpful for patients who are unable to exercise, and recommends that hot tub treatments should be included as regular therapy for patients with diabetes.
Important Note: It is highly recommended that those with diabetes consult with their physicians prior to beginning hot tub treatments.
The link between stress and illness should be of interest to anyone concerned with their health. We all have stress in our daily lives relating to work, family and society. Mental tensions, frustrations and insecurity are among the most damaging types of stress.
Affected by stress, the heart works harder, breathing becomes more rapid and shallow, and digestion slows. Nearly every process of the body is degraded. Researchers have estimated that 80% of disease is stress related. Since we usually can't avoid it, the key to dealing with stress is relieving it!
A soothing and relaxing soak in a hot tub can help counteract stress and its effects on the human body. It is the perfect antidote to a hectic and stressful lifestyle.
In a hot tub, three key elements combine to create a therapeutic, stress-relieving environment: heat, buoyancy, and massage.
A study at the Mayo Clinic found that since soaking in your hot tub simulates exercise, it gives you the same health benefits of exercise – with less stress to the heart! A hot tub increases the heart rate while lowering blood pressure, instead of raising it as other forms of exercise do.
A recent medical article titled “Mayo Clinic OK’s Spas for Heart Patients” indicates that hot tubs may not present a risk to heart patients as previously thought. The report stated that relaxing in a spa might actually be less stressful to your heart than working out on an exercise bicycle.
The research, led by Dr. Thomas G. Allison, examined the body temperature and cardiovascular stress experienced by 15 patients at risk for heart disease both in hot water and on bicycles. The studies showed that exercise caused blood pressure to rise from an average of 121/73 to 170/84. By contrast, sitting in a spa made the blood pressure drop from an average of 117/77 to 106/61. The article also states that hot tub use will raise heart rates 25.7 beats per minute.
Important Note: We strongly urge anyone who is at risk for heart disease to consult with his or her physician before entering a hot tub.
Both professional and “weekend” athletes can use their hot tubs to aid in repairing sore muscles and injuries. Neck and back pain, sports injuries, muscle pulls, spasms and soreness are often eased simply by a quick dip in your hot tub.
Your hot tub can also be used as preventive medicine. According to an article in Tennis Magazine, “When you immerse yourself in the hot water of a whirlpool, the temperature of your skin and muscles rise, causing blood vessels to dilate and thus increasing blood flow to the skin and muscles. Turn on the jets and the pulsating water massages the skin, increasing blood flow even more. The result? Your skin and muscles loosen and relax from the increased blood circulation.”
You can improve your athletic performance by using your hot tub both before and after you exercise:
Before You Exercise. Soaking in a hot tub before exercising relaxes your body and loosens muscles, making exercise easier and reducing the risk of injury. A pre-exercise soak will also help improve performance. In fact, some golfers swear it has actually taken a couple of strokes off their game.
After You Exercise. Soaking in a hot tub after exercising is a great way to wind down and relax your muscles. The hot, swirling water embraces you . . . massaging your neck, shoulders, arms, back, thighs, calves, and feet. But most importantly, hot tub use after you exercise will greatly reduce or even eliminate the stiffness typically felt the next day.
Note: If you have a sports injury, consult with your physician before using a hot tub. It is often necessary to treat swollen areas with cold first. You doctor will likely advise you to avoid hot water until swelling of an injury has subsided. When the swelling is gone, the massaging action of a hot tub will generally help speed the healing process.
These days, we are all running in different directions, and sometimes we’re lucky if we see our spouse or kids for ½ hour before bedtime. Many families don’t even have time to eat together. However, families that have hot tubs find that it brings everyone together like nothing else can. You’d be surprised how much your kids suddenly love hanging out with you when there’s a hot tub involved!
And what about when the kids go to bed? Wouldn’t you rather soak in a hot tub with your spouse than to sit on the couch and watch TV? Remember – no couple ever had an argument in a hot tub!
Then there’s those times where you just want to shut the entire world off and empty out your brain. Imagine escaping to your backyard at night, by yourself, and just soaking the stress away, while you stare up at the stars? We promise, you’ve never experienced anything like it.
- Heat dilates blood vessels to increase blood flow to sore or damaged tissue.
- Buoyancy reduces body weight by 90%, relieving pressure on joints and muscles.
- Massage works to relax muscles and relieve pressure on nerves.
Numerous independent studies have proven that a warm water massage stimulates the release of endorphins, the body's natural “feel good” chemical. Your hot tub will enhance your sense of well being, and leave you feeling fresh, clean, and ready to tackle life’s daily challenges.