Athletes are constantly maintaining muscle mass by working, stressing and stretching those strong little fibers. As overworked muscle tissues become damaged, the body compensates by rebuilding even stronger, larger muscle tissues in their place. The result is a well-toned body, and plenty of muscle pain. On the other end of the spectrum, people with medical conditions or very little exercise can strain their muscles regularly due to weakness and bursts of activity. Hot tub therapy can play an important role in pain-management as well as muscle recovery for both types of muscle strain.
Using Heat for Pain Relief
There are two ways to deal with painful muscle tissues: heat or cold. Cold is the best form of therapy when your muscles are badly damaged, red and swollen. Heat is the best form of therapy when your muscles are aching and sore, but not visibly hurt. If you are a bit sore and stressed from a workout, or from exertion of weak muscles, a long soak in a hot tub can provide immediate relief. Heat causes tense muscles and other tissues to relax and expand, while promoting extra blood flow through the affected area. Blood brings necessary nutrients and oxygen to the muscle fibers, helping them to rebuild themselves more quickly.
Hot Tub Therapy Days After Exercise or Stress
Soaking in a hot tub can relax you immediately after a gentle workout, but it is also an integral part of the toning and healing process. When your muscles have been used vigorously, they are frayed and broken. This means that they require rest and nutrition to recover and rebuild. For this reason, you should not work on the same muscle groups two days in a row at the gym, in the spa, or wherever your muscles get used the most.
A process called Active Recovery can soothe and rebuild those muscles more quickly, especially when coupled with hot tub therapy. Active Recovery refers to the process of gentle stretching and massage of affected muscles. When combined with the oxygen-enhancing, tension-relieving heat of the hot tub, AR works even better.
In your down time – that is to say, when your muscles need a few days of rest – you can stretch your aching muscles in the hot tub to reinvigorate those overworked fibers. Again, the heat will help with pain management and make these stretches more satisfying. Massage, either in the water or immediately afterwards, also helps to work out tension and move oxygen, water and nutrients into the ailing cells.
Improved Quality of Sleep Leads to Better Muscle Recovery
Soaking in the hot tub in the evening can relax your body and mind, and help you get a good-quality sleep. Don’t jump straight into bed after drying off, however. Allow your body about 90 minutes of time to regulate its temperature, then climb into bed and enjoy a refreshing sleep. Since your muscles will be loose and relaxed following the soak, they will more readily accept oxygen and nutrients from your blood as you sleep. The better your quality of sleep, the more time your body has to focus on rebuilding and repairing any damage to muscles, organs and bones. This leads to quicker, less painful muscle recovery.
As far as your body is concerned, there are three vital elements necessary for healing: oxygen, fresh water, and nutrients. With the help of a hot tub and a gentle Active Recovery regime, you can help your muscles to better access all three.