What is Hydrotherapy?
||Hydrotherapy has been used for
thousands of years. The
and Romans treated an array of conditions with it.
Putting together three of nature's most powerful relieving agents:
heat, water and air, it invigorates and gently massages the body
while easing away aches and pains.
It's a natural therapy, safely used by
hospitals, physiotherapists and health spas around the world.
with your physician to see if it can benefit you. There
are several forms of hydrotherapy. The focus of this page
is the therapeutic benefits that can be realized by hydromassage and
hydrothermal therapy through use of
Three basic factors comprise this aquatic
therapy: heat, buoyancy,
- Immersion in hot water raises the body
temperature and causes the blood vessels to dilate, resulting in increased
- The buoyancy of the water reduces body
weight by approximately 85-90%, relieving pressure on joints and
muscles, while creating the relaxing sensation of floating in
- The massaging action of a spa is created by
sending a mixture of water and air through hot tub jet nozzles. This energized
warm-water stream relaxes tight muscles and stimulates the release of
endorphins, the body's natural pain killers.
|What Typically Happens
- After 5 minutes - your blood pressure
and pulse rates may begin to drop.
- After 8 minutes - your circulation
improves in your hands and feet making them feel warmer.
- After 12 minutes - your muscles relax,
becoming more receptive to passive exercise. Tissues become more pliable
and responsive to stretching, encouraging the release of lactic acid and
other toxins from your system.
- At 15 minutes - your minor aches and
pains will often experience a temporary decrease in severity.
For Tension and Everyday Aches & Pains
To reduce tension, a water temperature between
94º to 96º F, which is close to the skin temperature, will often
produce good results. Many people have reported that a higher
water temperature between 102º to 104º F is great for loosening tight,
tense muscles and reducing the pain of stress-related conditions such
as backache. Using temperature settings above 104ºF is not recommended
as it can raise your core temperature very fast, inducing an
||If you dare, take a cold shower after you
step out of the spa, like the ancient Romans did as part of their
bath ritual. This brings an immediate
rush of blood through your system, as well as an exhilarating rush of
natural energy. Just as hot water opens and cleanses the pores, cool water closes them
back up again afterward.
Evening is one of the best times to soak in
hot water. You will probably find that a good soaking before
going to bed will make falling asleep easier, and you'll likely
experience deeper sleep throughout the night. If you have
a medical condition or are pregnant, consult with your physician
before starting any hydrotherapy regimen.
Soak Into a Good Night's Sleep
The National Sleep Foundation recently conducted
a poll which showed that 38% of men, and 48% of women suffer from some
form of sleep disorder, such as insomnia more than one night per
week. In fact, after pain, insomnia is the second leading reason
that people visit their doctors.
Researchers in this field believe that our often
hectic and stress filled lifestyles are a major reason for the rise in
insomnia cases. Lack of sleep can cause memory problems,
shattered nerves, even mood swings and depression.
Many people have sought medication to treat
sleeping problems. But did you know that you can often help your
own body prepare for a deep and restful sleep? According to a
report in the scientific publication Sleep, your body can be
eased into a state of deep and relaxing sleep by a drop in body
temperature after going to bed. Soaking in hot water about 90
minutes before bedtime triggers your internal thermostat to lower your
temperature, thus inducing sleep to set in more easily.
||A 15 minute soak in your hot tub before bedtime
can be a natural way to achieve restful sleep without the use of
drugs. Most awaken in the morning with a clear head, and
none of the grogginess often associated with the use of sleeping
medications or alcohol.
Can Hydrotherapy help relieve Arthritis?
Arthritis, which most of us
understand to be an inflammation of a joint or joints, resulting in pain and
swelling, is actually the name for a family of over a hundred separate
diseases. These include: rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, ankylosing
spondylitis, gout and lupus. By some estimates, one out of every three
families has someone who suffers from this condition.
||As stated in their article:
- Spas & Warm Water Exercise published by
the Arthritis Foundation, "people whose arthritis symptoms respond well to
heat have discovered the many benefits of heat therapy."
If you suffer from arthritis, you will need to
consult with your doctor on the treatment regimen that is best for
you. This is because there are several safe and effective ways
to minimize loss of motion and the associated pain. Your doctor
may recommend exercise, use of warm water and heat, use of cold, or other treatments. Some may be right for you, and others
may not. That is why it is so important for your doctor to be
involved closely in your treatment.
In a home spa, the buoyancy of its warm water
hydrotherapy make it a safe, ideal environment for relieving arthritis
symptoms including stiffness and the associated pain while improving
the range of motion.
Warm water exercise is one method of
hydrotherapy which is more gentle to joints and muscles. This
is because the water supports the weight and lessens stress on them to
encourage free movement. It also provides a level of resistance
to assist in re-building muscle strength. Using a spa adds a third
component to the therapy which is massage. A hot tub's jets release a
mixture of air and warm water, relaxing and massaging your body. The
Arthritis Foundation has published articles on the subject of
water exercise. Speak
with your physician and find out if hot water exercise or hydrotherapy
is right for you.
The New England Journal of Medicine reported on
a study (08-16-1999) regarding the benefits of physical exercise and
therapy from the use of hot tub spas. As reported, patients
with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus were studied using a hot tub 30 minutes a day, 6 days
per week. After only 10 days, patients required reduced doses of
insulin, lost weight, showed distinct decreases in plasma glucose and glycosylated
hemoglobin, and benefited from improved sleep and an increased general sense of
The study also reported of benefits for patients who are unable
to exercise. These patients would specifically benefit from increased blood flow to
skeletal muscles. Once again, if you have this condition or
other medical issues, you must consult with your physician prior to
starting any hydrotherapy program.
Weight Loss and Cellulite Reduction
||At first it may sound hard to believe, but the
same study has shown that regular use of hot tubs can aid in weight
loss, as well as diminish the appearance of cellulite.
This stems from the fact that soaking in a spa simulates exercise by
dilating blood vessels and promoting better circulation, as it relaxes
the skin and muscles. It can also increase the heart rate, while
lowering blood pressure. This seems to indicate that soaking in a hot
tub may be good for your body in many ways.
As previously mentioned, the
study was for diabetes research, but the results showed that the
weight of the subjects was reduced by an average of nearly four
pounds each. That's over a pound per week, just by soaking in a
|Regular use of hot tubs may also help to
diminish the appearance of cellulite. These fatty deposits that
typically gather on the hips, thighs, and buttocks of most women past
their 30s can never be fully eliminated. The design of a woman's body
naturally causes the skin to dimple out, whether she is overweight or
By improving circulation to the areas affected
by cellulite, the appearance of the unsightly deposits can be reduced. Hot tub hydrotherapy stimulates blood vessels
and increases circulation. It also tones the body tissue, reduces
fluid retention, and relieves swelling. All of these benefits combined
can result in the reduction of the appearance of cellulite.
Ask anyone who owns one: they will tell you that
they feel better after using their spa. For hundreds of years
Europeans have used hot water spa therapy as a treatment for various
chronic diseases. In fact, the Romans developed a fabulous hot
springs resort in Bath, England sometime after their invasion in 43
||The effectiveness of such
therapy for chronic low back pain has not been well documented
until recently. In 1995, a study published in the British
Journal of Rheumatology reported that spa therapy has both
short and long-term benefits in treating lower back pain.
A later French study, published in the
Journal of Rheumatology by another group of researchers, sought to
quantify the overall benefits of hot water spa therapy. It
appears to confirm these results. After three weeks of consistent
hydrotherapy, examinations showed more improvement in the health
status (as measured in pain duration and intensity and back
flexibility) of the spa treatment group than in 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 Mayo Clinic found in a recent study that
since bathing in your hot tub simulates exercise, soaking in one gives
you some of the same health benefits of exercise but with less heart
stress. A hot tub increases the heart rate while lowering blood
pressure, instead of raising it as other forms of exercise do.
In the article Mayo Clinic OK's Spas for Heart Patients it
states that spas may not pose as much risk to heart patients as
previously had been thought. The report stated that relaxing in a spa
might actually be less stressful to your heart than working out on an
The research 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. In
contrast, sitting in a spa made the blood pressure drop from an
average of 117/77 to 106/61.
The article goes on to state that in a hot tub,
the heart naturally beats faster and heart disease patients want to
know if the stress placed on the heart is too great. If you
suffer from heart disease, consult with your physician first to see if
hot tub bathing is appropriate for your condition.
Benefits for Athletes
Professional sports teams have long known
the value of hot tub hydrotherapy, but weekend athletes can
use the same therapy to aid in relieving minor aches and pains
and sore muscles. Neck and back pain, sports injuries,
muscle pulls, spasms and soreness are often eased simply by
a soak in the spa.
It is also
good preventative medicine. Since skin and muscles loosen
and relax from the increased blood circulation, improvement
in athletic performance can bee seen by using your hot tub
both before and after you exercise.
Prior to athletic activity, soaking relaxes and loosens muscles, and can reduce
the risk of injury while improving overall performance.
After physical exercise of any kind,
hot soaking helps you relax your muscles and wind back down.
It can also significantly reduce next-day muscle stiffness.
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 warm
water circulation will generally help speed the healing
Tax Deductions & Insurance
||If your doctor or other health professionals advise you to
follow a regular program of warm water exercises, and if
the need for this medical treatment is your primary
reason for buying a home spa, all or a part of your
purchase price may qualify for income tax deduction as a
medical expense in certain circumstances.
In its opinion
letter Index No.: 213.05-00, the IRS states " Section 213(a) allows as
a [tax] deduction the expenses paid during the taxable year for
medical care of the taxpayer, spouse, or dependent. Under §
213(d)(1)(A), an expense is for 'medical care' if its primary purpose
is the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of
disease. Since a spa is of a personal nature, you must establish
that it is primarilyfor
the cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease before you
can deduct the cost on your tax return. You may be able to claim it as
a tax deduction even though you also derive pleasure from it and even
though someone else such as your spouse makes use of it, as long as
you are buying the hot tub primarily
to relieve pain due to disease or an injury. A prescription from your
doctor for the hot tub will help in establishing this.
This is not tax advice.
Your accountant can inform you as to the specific
tax rules and give you professional advice as to whether your purchase
will qualify for a deduction or not, as well as what documentation you
Some medical insurance plans may also cover all or
part of the purchase expense of a spa prescribed by your physician as
a medical treatment. Consult with your insurance
provider to see if they offer this coverage and to see if you are
eligible. Note that if your insurance company pays for the hot tub,
you many not also deduct its expense on your income tax return.
Caution: If you are pregnant, have high blood
pressure, heart disease, diabetes, or any other medical
condition, you must consult with your
physician before beginning any hot water therapy program. Your doctor can help
determine if it's right for you. Infants and children are more sensitive
to the effects of heat, and experts recommend shorter soaking times. Consult
Tub Safety for other important information.