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How do hot tubs improve your health?

Taking a regular dip in a quality hot tub can unlock the combined wellness benefits of a healthy mind and body. Andy Slater investigates the latest health research.

Gone are the days when hot tubs were basic boxes of hot water to splash around in for fun and socialising; especially now that leading manufacturers are utilising the latest technology to transform the physical and mental well-being of their customers with form-fitting moulded seating and modern hydrotherapy jets that replicate traditional massage techniques.

As long as humans have been roaming the earth there has been a strong association with the health benefits and healing powers of being submerged in warm water. Now there is a futuristic method of utilising advanced hot tub hydrotherapy, which is providing an escape from the stresses and strains of modern life for millions of Britons across all corners of the UK.

Unlock wellness

Now, as a way of preventing our minds and bodies from being frazzled by physically and mentally demanding jobs, many UK owners have discovered that their hot tubs can provide a convenient wellness sanctuary away from the turmoil of daily life; either as a solo soak or as part of quality social interaction with family and friends.

After you take ownership of a hot tub you can immediately acquire improved health and unlock the many benefits of a whole new world of enhanced physical and mental wellness in the comfort of your own garden or home surroundings, without having the cost, hassle and inconvenience of having to make the journey to your local gym to enjoy the down-time offered by commercial spa facilities.

Along with proven health benefits, such as improved sleep patterns, owning a quality hot tub at home can provide natural relief from chronic stress, pain, and illness; which a growing proportion of UK homeowners have latched onto in the last 15 years, as hot tub ownership has gone through the roof.

Back trouble

For those in the know, an evening regimen of muscle-soothing massage in the bubbling warm water of their own hot tubs has become a routine daily ‘must-have’ for an army of Britons that are working in physically demanding jobs; including many working in the building trades and nurses, teachers, care workers, those in the armed forces, and police staff, that are constantly on the move and working in physically demanding environments.

Sitting at a desk for up to eight hours a day is also taking its toll on a growing proportion of the UK workforce and is said to be the new ‘silent killer’ with British office workers spending up to 75 per cent of their waking hours sitting down, according to a new study by the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Chronic back pain caused by poor posture and the strain and pressure of sitting for long periods in front of computer screens affects people in all age groups but the over-50’s are worst hit, according to newly-released figures by the UK Statistics Authority that reveal the shocking extent of the nation’s back pain problem.

“Many people are completely unaware that staying in the same seated position can cause unnecessary strain on the back and neck. Whether at your desk, on your tablet or sitting watching TV, it’s really important to take regular breaks to relieve the build-up of tension in your lower back; sitting causes up to twice as much pressure on discs on the spine as standing so, as a nation, we’re vulnerable,” says Tim Hutchful, a British Chiropractic Association (BCA) chiropractor.

Submerged joy

Whilst organisations like the Arthritis Foundation recognises the benefits of hydrotherapy massage and warm water exercise to help relieve arthritis pain, clinicians are now agreed that a whole host of other ailments, including chronic back pain, can be mitigated or avoided altogether by incorporating regular hydrotherapy massage into people’s busy lifestyles.

When you are totally submerged in warm water, as in a hot tub, you will begin to benefit from the life-enriching power of weightlessness. Immersing your whole body in a hot tub reduces body weight by approximately 90 per cent, relieving pressure on joints and muscles, especially the spine which bears the brunt of modern living.

Just 20 minutes immersed in warm water at around 37oC also dilates blood vessels and improves circulation, which helps move inflammatory substances away from the joints, muscles and tendons. Hydrotherapy massage also allows muscles to become relaxed, stimulating the release of endorphins, which are the body’s natural painkiller.

This explains why hydrotherapy is becoming a major treatment for athletes, allowing them to gain improved recovery rates following strenuous training sessions. This is due to the fact that warm water helps to raise body temperature and allows our pores to naturally eliminate toxins as the body perspires. They are promoting hot tubs as a way of recovering from the daily strain of training; which is also a blessing for millions of amateur sports enthusiasts, from runners, to cyclists and triathletes.

Fast living

Leading medical professionals and health experts have stated that we are at risk from our constantly ‘switched on’ culture and the fact that it is virtually impossible to escape from the daily grind of heavy workloads, electronic stimulation, domestic chores and constant doom and gloom in the media, within our fast-paced 24/7 life routine.

To combat our modern lifestyles and the constant strain on our physical and mental health it is important to find suitable ways to recharge our batteries and reconnect with loved ones after a busy day. This will help to prevent burn out and most importantly, becoming emotionally and physically rundown, which can have a devastating effect on our general overall wellness and positive health.

An area of biggest concern is the effect of technology and social media on children and teens, as they are progressively becoming disconnected and isolated from their physical surroundings and family members. Since water and tech gadgets generally make unhappy bed-fellows, a regular family session in the hot tub has become the new ‘Sunday lunch’ for many families, and a welcome chance to reconnect without disruption from ‘beeping’ and ‘pinging’ smartphone alerts and story updates.

Modern indulgence

Visits to a health spa for a pick-me-up and massage session from time to time are often used as a stop-gap treatment to gain a boost for our bodies but they are usually too few and far between to make a real impact and do not address the important issue of how we maintain daily wellness. That is why hot tubs have become so popular for securing a wellness future for many age groups, including young and old, by putting a myriad of physical and emotional therapies at their disposal to enjoy whenever they choose.

Thanks to the hydrotherapy ‘treatments’ provided by modern hot tubs, we can tackle a whole range of ailments and illnesses, as well as prevent toxins from accumulating in the body that, if unchecked, can lead to inflammation and joint pain.

Massage treatment

Once you purchase a top-quality hot tub your health will be enhanced with the capacity to benefit from ‘full body’ hydrotherapy. This guarantee of an effective head-to-toe massage whenever you need it also has the extra advantage of eliminating the commute to a treatment room. For those that do take regular spa treatments then regular sessions in a hot tub can ensure the improved efficacy of the therapy.

Conventional massages generally involve a combination of different strokes to relieve the build-up of tension – particularly across the neck, shoulders and the back – while promoting lymphatic drainage and circulation. While a therapist will adjust their hand position and pressure to provide various benefits, there are different types of hot tub jets that are adopted in the design to produce an array of massages to target muscles throughout the body.

Your hot tub hydrotherapy, as with therapeutic massage, will help to relax muscles, increase circulation, decrease muscle spasm, relieve musculoskeletal pain and, most importantly, create a sense of holistic wellness. Here we have highlighted some of the benefits produced by hot tub jets and how they compare to health spa therapies and physical massage therapies.

Back, neck and shoulder massage

Sufferers of stress are already aware that the back, shoulders and neck are all areas of our body where stress symptoms create negative reactions such as soreness and tightness in our muscles that never seem to subside, even with over-the-counter pain relief. It usually requires the expertise of a therapist to apply various amounts of pressure levels to alleviate these ‘stress knots’ by using different parts of the hand and professional techniques that can relax muscles and ease tension.

Professional techniques are the deep and penetrating Petrissage strokes (kneading, knuckling and wringing) that invigorate tired muscles and also assist our bodies to reduce lactic acid. The Effleurage strokes (gentle, long flowing strokes, which are usually a source of treatment with the whole palm of the hand and fingers), meanwhile create an overwhelming sense of relaxation, which provides a physical as well as mental health tonic and improves our immune systems.

Modern swirling jets of a hot tub that move the water around in a circular motion massage a wider area in a similar way to Effleurage. Traditionally installed in the back of a hot tub’s lounge seat they relieve tension in the neck and back by targeting the muscles of these two body areas. The moving massage jets in a hot tub, meanwhile, which are generally installed two or three in a row, provide a deep back massage, the elongated oval jet creates this effective massage by pulsating the water back and forth.

Defined as Tapotement, rhythmic tapping using the edges of the hands, can be replicated in hot tubs with advanced jet systems located in appropriate seating settings to pulse the water to gain a similar benefit. Firm pressure can also be applied by whirlpool jets that are concentrated to an area by redirecting pressure from the other jets, providing a powerful deep tissue massage to provide welcome relief for our tired or aching muscles. While Swirl Jets and Pillow Jets create a ‘beneficial neck massage and soothing cushion’ and are traditionally installed above the hot tub water line.

Reflexology/foot massage

Our hard-working feet take the strain of our entire weight on a daily basis. Even after squeezing our feet into all shapes and sizes of shoes we rub salt into the wound by hammering them for hours at a time. Yet, as most of us realise, our feet are extremely sensitive because of a massive concentration of nerve endings that can stimulate numerous benefits with correct treatment and care.

One of the best tonics for tired feet is reflexology, which is a complementary therapy that is based on the understanding that certain areas of our feet are linked to organs, and that applying pressure on these areas produces benefits for the related area of our bodies. For example, it is believed we can give the frontal sinus a boost by massaging the tips of our toes.

Now, a significant percentage of footwell areas in high-quality hot tubs currently include jets that reproduce this health improving reflexology-type pressure, while also creating the added benefit of reducing pain and soreness in feet and ankles along with stimulating our feet’s many pressure points to super charge our organs and areas of our bodies that have been neglected.

Skin care

Several manufacturers have incorporated a new technology called MicroSilk® in their hot tubs in recent years to tackle skin health for the first time. This is being viewed as a revolutionary skin treatment system to provide health benefits within hot tubs by utilising oxygen to stimulate collagen production.

During the ageing process, our skin’s natural collagen production gradually subsides, and this leads to the thinning of the skin, which causes fine lines, wrinkles and the appearance of age spots. It is believed that as little as 20 minutes of MicroSilk® exposure a day will remove years off your appearance by re-stimulating collagen levels to leave your skin appearing smooth and beautiful.

Also, the latest low-maintenance and skin-friendly water care products; which have been developed especially for hot tubs, will leave your skin looking and feeling cleansed and refreshed, following a spa session of 20 to 30 minutes.

Advanced lighting

A large majority of modern hot tubs are produced with advanced LED coloured lighting systems, which can create an attractive night time spectacle, and help to illuminate our garden areas, but advanced lighting technology can also benefit our health by stimulating our senses that have been recognised to play a major role in our mood and wellbeing. To harness powers of colour therapy, hot tubs are traditionally fitted with an array of coloured underwater lights to provide users with a health boost.

Generally defined as ‘chromotherapy’, it is also known as colour therapy and is viewed as an alternative healing benefit associated with the principal that the seven shades of the spectrum are infused with many specific healing energies that can be harnessed to improve a person’s energy capacity and increase mental health.

This form of chromotherapy healing originates from ayurvedic medicine, which designates certain healing properties to individual colours. Red, for example is associated with the stimulation of our circulation; while green, is linked with calm and balance

Enhanced mood

A growing health benefit of hot tubs in relation to enhancing our moods is the use of aromatherapy. This is a popular favourite with spa-goers as the fusion of heady essential oils and flowing strokes can generate a wonderful sensorial and relaxing experience. Generally, we associate aromatherapy with hands-on massage at a spa, yet increasingly the use of essential oils and additional plant extracts to improve wellness and enhance our mood is experiencing rapid growth within the use of hot tubs, which is being reflected by manufacturers incorporating this technology in their hot tubs.

Manufacturers and suppliers are providing a greater choice of ‘spa soaks’, and these have been specifically developed to be regularly adopted in the hot tub routine to provide the double benefit of an individual smell of your choice that also creates the required mood. Rosemary and peppermint, for example, have the aromatherapy powers to invigorate and stimulate your mood; while lavender oil promotes healthy sleep patterns.

Deep sleep

Medical and health professionals are increasingly worried that a lack of quality sleep is causing a host of illnesses and health problems. Most people at one time or another suffer the torture and the anguish of a restless sleep pattern and total lack of sleep, but hot tubs are now providing a natural cure.

Research by the Mental Health Foundation and the Surrey Sleep Research Centre at Surrey University, has also highlighted that almost two thirds of us are failing to gain a healthy boost from a good night’s sleep. Experts report that the problem has become widespread because we are failing to switch off from a wide range of electronic stimulus and worries about keeping pace with our hectic lifestyles and work.

After media coverage about the negative use of sleeping tablets, restless sleep sufferers are turning to the natural cure that hot tub hydrotherapy offers, rather than seeking help from pharmacists with over-the-counter remedies such as sleeping pills.

Generally, a hot tub session of only ten to 20 minutes prior to bedtime will naturally help your body to unwind and then gain much deeper and more relaxed regular sleep, so may be the ideal prescription to prevent illnesses and health issues from lack of sleep.