While exercise is clearly good for your health, it can lead to sore, achy muscles. These sore muscles can make it hard to complete your daily tasks. If you have a hot tub, you have the unique ability to experience a different kind of relaxation. Hot water soaks are a great way to help sore muscles relax, but when and how you soak is the real question.

SpaMate knows just how important it can be to treat sore muscles in a spa. We are here to help you better understand how to get the most out of your hot tub soaking experience as an athlete.

What Exercise Does to Muscles

When you exercise, you are working muscles harder than they would be during normal daily activities. This strenuous working of the muscles causes microtrauma to the muscles, which allows the muscle to become stronger and denser than it was before recovery. Generally, you will start to feel sore between 24 and 48 hours after an intense workout. This soreness is called delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS.

DOMS is a signal that your muscles are strengthening, and it is a good thing. DOMS pain can occur in muscles, ligaments, or tendons, and it is completely harmless. Be sure that you are only dealing with DOMS, however, because some pain is signaling an injury. Pain should be bilateral. If you are experiencing pain in only one arm or leg, you may have an injury.

While taking the time to stretch and warm up before exercise can help cut down on the soreness you experience, it won’t eliminate it. You should also increase resistance, weight, and intensity of your workouts slowly. Your hot tub can also help reduce the pain you feel from exercise.

How a Hot Tub Can Relieve Muscle Pain

It is no surprise that heat helps soothe pain. Hot baths have been recommended for people with sore or stiff muscles and joints for quite a while, but hot tubs are a new way to get a similar experience.

Hot tubs help increase blood flow, which helps reduce pain in sore, achy muscles. In addition to increased blood flow, spas contain jets that push water toward the skin and create a massaging effect. Sore, cramped muscles can benefit from the massage effect that hot tubs provide, just like they would from a traditional massage. This allows for a deeper relaxation than could be achieved outside of a spa. A hot tub also speeds up the healing process, which means you won’t feel sore for nearly as long as you could have without a post-workout soak.

Stepping in a hot tub also relaxes your mind. While your mind isn’t the focus of easing the pain of sore muscles, by allowing your mind to have a break, you can improve your overall health. Relieving the stress of your mind will also take your mind off the other pain you feel.

Hydrotherapy is another great way to soothe pain from exercise. Instead of hitting the gym, hit the hot tub. Doing exercises in water is easier on joints and muscles. Plus, the hot water and jets will help relax your body while you are doing the exercises.

Hydrotherapy also helps reduce the level of lactic acid in the body after a workout. Lactic acid builds up as we exercise. Lactic acid buildup causes soreness, so if you soak after a hard workout, the lactic acid level in your body will drop and help prevent sore muscles.

How to Safely Use a Hot Tub to Relieve Muscle Pain

Even though hot tubs are good for sore muscles, there is a right way and a wrong way to use a hot tub to relieve muscle pain. You can use a hot tub to warm up your muscles before a workout and as a way to relax muscles after a workout.

When using a hot tub to warm up muscles, you can do a quick 10 to 20-minute soak before your workout to heat up the muscles. When you get out of the hot tub, dry off and stretch before you start your workout. You can even do stretches in the hot tub to help you loosen up even more.

Once you finish your workout, the hot tub becomes beneficial again, but you need to be careful. Before hopping into a hot tub, you need to be sure that your body has completely cooled down. If you hop into a spa after a strenuous workout, your core temperature can continue to rise. Your heart will try to pump more blood to your extremities in an attempt to cool down, which puts excess strain on the heart. Not giving your body time to cool down before entering a hot tub can cause dizziness, fatigue, nausea, heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and heart attack.

To help speed up the body cooling process, you can drink cool water or take a cool shower. It is very important to be both cool and well-hydrated before getting into the hot tub. After your body is back to normal, you will want to limit the amount of time you are in the hot tub. Avoid staying in the hot tub for longer than 20 minutes, and don’t let the water get over 104°F. If you start to feel lightheaded or dizzy, safely exit the hot tub. If the symptoms continue after you have cooled down, call your physician.

Special Considerations

While hot tubs are safe for most people, there are a few exceptions. For pregnant women, hot tubs are off limits, because the temperature of the water can cause harm to the fetus. People with heart disease, diabetes, high or low blood pressure, or any other serious medical condition, it is advised that you speak to a doctor before using a spa.

SpaMate carries a variety of hot tub accessories, parts, covers, lifts, chemicals, and more. While you take care of yourself, let SpaMate take care of your spa. If you have any questions about caring for your hot tub, call SpaMate at 1-800-923-7330. Associates are available from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Central Time from Monday through Friday.