If you've recently suffered an injury or had surgery, spa therapy can make a huge difference in your recovery. After all, if you have the choice between doing rehab in an impersonal rehabilitation facility or a swim spa in your own backyard, which would you choose?
We thought so. And that's why we want to tell you about the amazing rehab benefits of hot tub hydrotherapy.
What is Hot Tub Hydrotherapy?
Hydrotherapy has been around since Ancient Greek, Roman, and Egyptian times and has been used to help alleviate many health conditions such as aches in joints and muscles, arthritis, stress, musculoskeletal disorders, back pain and even diabetes. In fact, the Father of Medicine, Hippocrates advised his patients to soak in bathing springs to help overcome sickness.
Fortunately, today's hydrotherapy doesn't involve traveling to an out-of-the-way hot spring, but to your own backyard if you're lucky enough to have a hot tub or swim spa installed.
Here are some expert opinions about why spending time in a hot tub can help improve your health and put you on the road to healing:
Injuries often lead to arthritis, and The Arthritis Foundation says warm water combined with jets offers a variety of health benefits. Spa therapy helps relax tense and sore muscles, relieve arthritis pain, reduce stiffness, and increase blood flow which results in increased flexibility.
People who have suffered stroke, traumatic head injury, or spinal cord injury often avoid rehabilitation because they fear they can't do it, according to Keri Currett, a certified therapeutic specialist. But Currett says fear is often replaced by confidence and freedom when a patient exercises in a swim spa. The soothing effect of the warm water enables patients to exercise without strain on their joints or injuries, and they can exercise for much longer periods of time.
A Med Care study reported that people suffering with back pain were split into two groups. One half was treated with hot tub therapy and the other half was not. Those treated showed a significant improvement over those who were not given the therapy.
John Greenwood, director of communications for the Hodan Center in Wisconsin says water buoyancy can do wonders for patients who aren't able to do traditional exercise.
Hot Tub Water Therapy Speeds up Rehab Time
In addition to making rehab easier, spa therapy can also speed up recovery time. Kelly McFarland, PT, DPT, and the owner of Premier Rehab Physical Therapy says that she has been able to speed up patient's progress with the use of aquatic therapy.
This is possible for a few reasons. First, doing rehab exercises in a hot tub is easier, and people are more willing to do them if they know it won't cause them pain. And because they're not in pain, they tend to stick to their schedule. They also tend to do the exercises for longer periods of time, speeding up their recovery.
Hot Tub Rehab Exercises
Here are some basic hot tub rehab exercises for three common injuries and surgeries. Just remember to check with your doctor or physical therapist before starting any hot tub rehab exercise program!
Knee Replacement Hot Tub Exercises
One of keys to a successful knee replacement is rehab. Here are a few exercises you can do on your own in combination with your physical therapist.
Hold onto the edges of the hot tub or swim spa and gently lower your legs until you're in a squat position. Stand up straight and repeat.
Turn on the jets and walk underwater to regain your motion and strength.
Use fins to move your legs up and down in the water. This strengthens the muscles around the knee.
Stand up straight and hold onto the tub's walls or rails and gently lift and lower one leg, while keeping it straight. Then do the same with the other leg.
Shoulder Injury Hot Tub Exercises
Whether you have an upper arm strain, rotator cuff injury, frozen shoulder, or arthritis pain in the shoulder, these exercises should help ease the pain.
Stand up in water that covers your shoulders and do circle eights with your arms. If you are in the later stages of your rehab and want build enough strength, you can add wrist weights.
Lay face down on a float in your swim spa and make snow angels with your arms.
Use a pool noodle and use your arms to try and “dive” underwater. By using your arms to pull the water, you will strengthen them.
Achilles Tendon Hot Tub Exercises
If you have sprained or injured your Achilles tendon, rehab exercises can help you regain your mobility. Here are a few to start with.
Turn on the jets of your swim spa and walk underwater. Be sure to focus on the push-off of your foot and the knee bend as you take a step.
Using the same jets, walk sideways in the swim spa.
Once your recovery is well under way, you can begin jogging underwater.