Hydrotherapy is the use of warm or cold water and pressure to offer relief from debilitating symptoms. Ancient Chinese, Roman and Egyptian civilizations used hydrotherapy to help reduce pain caused by injury or illnesses.
While there are different techniques and ways to practice hydrotherapy, the most common is underwater jetted massage. That’s right, grandma and grandpa aren’t the only ones who can enjoy a walk-in tub.
There are all kinds of hydrotherapy tubs, and they do not have to feature the door on the side. However, that last thing you need when dealing with chronic pain or sore muscles is to risk slipping while stepping over a tub wall. The door makes it easy to get in and out, making it the perfect solution for athletes, children, or the elderly.
The truth is that a walk-in tub can help people of all ages and in all walks of life. At the most basic level, hydrotherapy can help relieve minor everyday aches and pains; however, it can also help those with insomnia, arthritis, diabetes, and lingering pain.
Along with numerous safety features, walk-in tubs provide the following health and lifestyle benefits:
Improve Your Quality of Sleep
A 1997 study by the Cornell University Medical College found that your body temperature naturally dips at night. This sudden drop in temperature is what helps your body fall asleep faster and allows you to achieve a deeper rest. For optimal results, take a bath an hour or two before sleeping. Your body cools down naturally so it’s important to follow that cycle, instead of heating yourself up right before bed (which will actually keep you up).
If you would like to ensure a relaxing experience, many walk-in tubs come with an essential oil diffuser in which you can add a few drops of lavender, valerian, chamomile, or clary sage essential oils. These natural sleep-inducing scents will aide in the sleep process.
If someone in your family suffers from chronic headaches or migraines, it might be time to consider hydrotherapy. Temperature therapy (hot or cold) is a great way to treat a headache. Cold water will help numb the pain, while hot water will relax tense muscles. If that’s not enough to soothe your aching head, try adding Epsom salts; they are packed with magnesium (which is said to aide in headaches).
You can also add peppermint leaves or essential oils. The active ingredient in peppermint is menthol which helps open up sinuses and relieve pressure.
Ease Common Cold Symptoms
If you’ve been struggling to get over a case of the sniffles, soaking in your walk-in tub could be the solution. A 2016 Yale study suggests that an elevated body temperature may suppress the common cold, and what better way to raise your temperature than in a hot bath?
Use a dab of mentholated salve (Vicks or Chagrin Valley) under your nose to open up your breathing passages. Eucalyptus and Camphor can be used as a numbing agent for sore noses.
Improve Heart Health
For those who suffer from limited mobility (either from a disease or injury), exercising is not always a viable option. A recent study from the Mayo Clinic revealed that soaking in a warm bath can increase your heart rate while lowering blood pressure. This provides similar cardiovascular benefits as cardio exercises without the strain on the heart.
The study also stated that sauna bathing can “improve your cardiovascular function via improved endothelium-dependent dilation reduced arterial stiffness and lower blood pressure.”
Alleviate Joint Pain
According to the Arthritis Foundation, warm water therapy has shown to aid joint pain for those with “musculoskeletal conditions such as fibromyalgia, arthritis, and lower back pain.” Soaking in the tub reduces the force of gravity that compresses the joint, decreases swelling, inflammation, and completely encompasses the joint providing support and increased circulation.
Some types of arthritis (rheumatoid and psoriatic) can affect any joint in the body, causing widespread pain in multiple areas. Many doctors recommend hydrotherapy because the pulsating motion of hot water and jets provides stimulation circulation and help bring oxygen-rich blood to the swollen and affected joints.
Relieve Sore Muscles
Sore muscles after exercising can be difficult to treat. Many people have tried using a heating pack; however, that only heats up the skin while the muscles underneath remain unaffected. Although sitting in the bath might not feel like much, the warm water will increase the temperature of your aching muscles and provide some much-needed relief. After just eight minutes in the bath, your muscles will relax, the tissue becomes pliable and responsive to stretching, and lactic acids are released.
Lower Blood Sugar Levels
29.1 million people in the United States have diabetes; however, around 8.1 million go undiagnosed and remain unaware of their condition. According to a New England Journal of Medicine article, spa therapy can aid in the reduction of blood sugar levels. This is because other studies have shown that soaking in a warm water bath can mimic the beneficial effects of exercise. The study had participants soak in a tub six days a week for a minimum of 30 minutes.
After three weeks, they averaged a 13 percent reduction in blood sugar levels. A few of the participants also felt an increase in well-being, improved sleep quality, and significantly reduced stress levels.
Several walk-in tub companies sell tubs that offer chromotherapy — a treatment using various colors in a therapeutic manner). Chromotherapy tubs use the effects of colors (warm colors to improve circulation, cool colors to promote relaxation and tension relief) to trigger certain emotions and feelings.
You may also find a tub that uses the power of aromatherapy to increase your emotional well-being or simply relax you by releasing a soothing fragrance.
There are multiple reasons why you might want a walk-in tub. Whether you’re looking to reduce the amount of stress in your life or find a natural solution to long-lasting pain, hydrotherapy could be the answer. Consult with your doctor, physician, or other healthcare providers prior to using hydrotherapy.
Carlee Linden is a Content Management Specialist for BestCompany.com and manages the Walk-In Tubs blog. When she’s not at work, Carlee can be found online shopping or redecorating her apartment.