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If you’re looking into purchasing a hot tub or bath, you may have heard the term “hydrotherapy.” But what does it really mean?

What Exactly Is Hydrotherapy?

In the broadest terms, hydrotherapy refers to the use of water in relieving and managing pain. It can involve any type of water, whether it’s in a foot bath, hot tub or bathtub.

Often, different temperatures of water are used to treat different conditions. For instance, cold water may be used to reduce muscle inflammation, while warm or hot water may be used to promote blood flow.

Although various forms of hydrotherapy can be offered at physical therapy centers and hospitals, the basics of hydrotherapy can be easily recreated at home, provided that you have a bath or hot tub.

What Are the Benefits of Hydrotherapy?

Although hydrotherapy is often viewed as a type of alternative medicine, its beneficial effects have been thoroughly investigated and supported by scientific evidence.

From pain relief to better sleep, hydrotherapy can help people to enhance many aspects of their lives.

Let’s look at some of the benefits of hydrotherapy:

  • Heart health: A Swedish study found that warm water immersion improves cardiac function in patients with chronic heart failure.
  • Blood pressure: An American study found that warm water immersion reduces blood pressure in both diabetic and healthy people.
  • Pain relief: The Arthritis Foundation cites warm water therapy as a treatment for fibromyalgia, arthritis and low back pain.
  • Muscle soreness: An English study found that cold water immersion after exercise may reduce muscle soreness.
  • Mood: According to an American dermatologist, warm water triggers a release of endorphins.
  • Sleep quality: A Japanese study observed that both bathing and hot foot baths help to improve overall sleep quality.

Hydrotherapy at Home

Steaming hot tub in winterYou don’t need a physical therapist or doctor to experience the positive effects of hydrotherapy. With nothing more than a bath or hot tub, you can enjoy regular hydrotherapy sessions from the comfort of your home.

Here are some ideas:

  • Indulge in a warm bath or hot foot bath just before bed. If you have a hot tub, just dip your feet in if you don’t have time for a full-body soak — you’ll still reap the same benefits.
  • Soak in a warm bath or a hot tub when you’re feeling stressed or tense. You’ll likely start relaxing after just a few minutes.
  • Try treating your joint or muscle pain by immersing the affected area in warm water.
  • Hop into a cold bath after exercising to prevent muscle soreness (just don’t stay in for more than a 10 minutes).
  • Take a warm bath to improve overall cardiac function.

If you have a heart condition or other serious illness, just be sure to check with your doctor before starting home hydrotherapy.

When using hydrotherapy treatments, remember these guidelines:

  • Hot water, whether in a hot tub or bath, should never be raised above a temperature of 104 degrees Fahrenheit, as advised by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
  • When taking a hot bath or soaking in a hot tub, listen to your body and pay attention to signs of overheating. If you start to feel nauseous or dizzy, get out and let yourself cool down.
  • According to research, if you’re using cold water immersion to prevent post-exercise soreness you should keep the water temperature between 50 and 59 degrees Fahrenheit, and limit your immersion time to between 10 and 15 minutes.
  • Since alcohol affects blood pressure and blood vessel dilation, never drink alcohol before engaging in hydrotherapy.

To start experiencing the benefits of hydrotherapy at home, all you need is a few minutes and a hot tub or a bath. Try some of the techniques mentioned in this article to start building hydrotherapy into your self-care routine.