Bring Hydrotherapy Benefits to Your Own Home
From relieving symptoms of everything from arthritis to diabetes, sometimes a nice, long soak in the tub is just what the doctor ordered. Here are just a few of the conditions that can benefit from this warm water hydrotherapy.
Heat has long been used as a treatment for a variety of medical conditions, and while warm compresses and heating pads are easy to come by at home, the bathtub may be the best option for certain aches and pains. Combining heat with the supportive nature of water yields a treatment known as hydrotherapy. Whether your condition is chronic or acute, many medical professionals agree that soaking in a warm bath could help ease discomfort or contribute to recovery without adding more bottles to your medicine cabinet.
For conditions like arthritis, fibromyalgia, or lower backpain, the Arthritis Foundation stands by the bathtub as a great addition to other treatments. Soaking or doing gentle movement exercises in warm water, the organization indicates, is “one of the oldest, cheapest, and safest forms of complementary therapy,” and notes research that shows heat treatment can loosen stiff joints and relieve achy muscles.
The concept here is that heat allows blood vessels to expand to improve blood flow. But if that’s true for heat in general, why add the water element?
“There are many reasons soaking in warm water works,” according to the health professionals at Physical Therapy & Injury Specialists (PTIS) in Denver. “It reduces the force of gravity that’s compressing the joint, offers 360-degree support for sore limbs, can decrease swelling and inflammation, and increase circulation.”
A number of recent scientific studies around the world support these recommendations. In 2016, Chinese researchers reported improvements in walking ability and balance after hydrotherapy was used with stroke patients. In 2017, Brazilian researchers found that hydrotherapy reduced pain and improved mobility in women with knee osteoarthritis, and a 2018 American study found that hydrotherapy was beneficial in improving balance, motor, and cognitive tasks in older adults. More than that, the American study went on to indicate that their hydrotherapy participants had improved motivations and positive attitudes toward exercise.
A Little Goes a Long Way
So how much hydrotherapy is necessary to see health improvements – and how hot is too hot? PTIS says the body usually reaches its maximum hydrotherapy benefit after soaking for 20 minutes. Frequency of hydrotherapy session varied among the scientific studies. The Brazilian researchers had participants use a heated pool twice a week for six weeks, while the Chinese study applied hydrotherapy five days a week for four weeks.
The good news is, unlike medications, it’s unlikely that bathers can “overdose” on hydrotherapy, as long as they stay within recommended temperature ranges. PTIS advises keeping water temperatures between 92 and 100 degrees F – warm, but not hot. They note that water that’s too hot can actually put stress on the heart, and that anything over 104 degrees is dangerous for everyone.
PTIS and the Arthritis Foundation agree that movement within the hydrotherapy tub is beneficial. Rather than just sitting and soaking, both organizations recommend stretching muscles and moving joints in the warm water to take advantage of the water’s supportive nature and get the most benefit for the body.
With these advantages in mind, if you’re experiencing any conditions that challenge your mobility or cause pain, including arthritis, fibromyalgia, sports injuries, low back pain, diabetes, and more, check with your doctor to see if warm-water hydrotherapy could help. We’re here to discuss ImproveIt’s selection of bathtubs, or walk-in tubs with whirlpool jets or airbath features to upgrade your bathing experience.
Looking for more information and a quote on installing a new tub? Fill out the form below and someone will contact you!