Hot tubs may seem like a luxury item. For the most part, they are. However, they can also be an effective way to recover after a workout. If you enjoy hitting the slopes of Aspen or the running trails of Hunter Creek Valley, you’ll want to understand how a hot tub for muscle recovery can work to your advantage.
Why Your Muscles are Sore After Working Out
Working out means different things for different people. It could be a jog, a bike ride, or a hardcore strength-training session in the gym. Whatever it is, we work our body to the point of fatigue. As that happens, the muscles experience microtears.
The tears in the muscle fibers are part of the process so that our muscles can build bigger and stronger.
Soreness comes as a result of the microtears. Inflammation will often occur and there’s decreased blood flow. It leads our nervous system to send out the pain receptors to tell us that we are sore.
Inflammation is often associated with ice. While icing the muscles will help decrease inflammation (it’s why cryotherapy is popular with professional athletes), it also constricts the blood vessels.
Heat is capable of helping with inflammation and blood flow, which is where hot tubs come into play.
The Importance of a Pre-Workout Soak
It’s a good idea to warm your muscles up before you begin to work out. Stretching and relaxing can help to avoid injury and help to enhance your performance.
A 10-minute pre-workout soak can be beneficial as it will dilate your blood vessels to increase blood flow. Your muscles will warm up and let go of any tension being held.
When you combine a hot tub soak with stretching, you can prepare more effectively for any kind of strenuous workout, whether it’s repetitive motion or heavy weightlifting.
The Benefits of a Post-Workout Soak
A post-work-out soak for approximately 20 minutes will offer quite a few benefits. You’ll change your core body temperature, metabolic rate, and blood circulation.
Now, you don’t want to jump right into the hot tub after your workout. To get the most out of the soak, there are a few things to do:
- Let your heart rate drop down to normal
- Give your muscles a chance to cool down
- Ice your muscles (or soak in cold water) for 10 minutes
- Hydrate with plenty of water
- Eat some protein (20-40 grams can fuel your muscles)
Once your body is ready, you can truly enjoy your soak. Relax into the hot water. Make the hydrotherapy personal by lighting a candle and playing your favorite music playlist. When you play to all of your senses, it can help to enhance the experience tremendously for you.
Lactic acid builds up throughout the workout. Hydrotherapy, such as a 20-minute soak in a hot tub, can reduce lactate so that you can relieve the pain of your workout.
Improve circulation. Increased blood flow helps to get lactic acid and toxins removed from the muscle fibers. The more circulation you have, the faster your muscle fibers can repair themselves because they’re getting the oxygen and nutrients that they need.
Improve stiffness. Muscles get tight after a long workout. It’s due to inflammation as well as the buildup of lactic acid. In the hot tub, your collagen fibers become more elastic. It allows you to gain more range of motion.
Block pain. Your pain receptors begin working after you have finished your workout. The heat of the hot tub will activate your heat receptors so that pain receptors are blocked. It’s safer to use a hot tub than pain pills.
Improve heat tolerance. As you slip into the hot temperatures of a hot tub, you’ll acclimate your body to those higher temperatures. When you’re dealing with the heat and humidity of a Colorado summer, your time in the hot tub can serve as good preparation. Additionally, your body will learn to sweat sooner so that you can decrease your core temperature and reduce stress on the heart.
Improve sleep. Hot baths have been a long-time remedy for sleeplessness. Whether you work out for the day or not, the soak in a hot tub can help to enforce your regular sleep cycle. With sufficient sleep, it’s easier for the body to recover quickly.
It can take days for your body to recover from a grueling workout. However, a hot tub does certainly make a difference. And there’s just one more thing – never use a hot tub after an injury. Vasodilation can increase the bleeding in the damaged area. Stay away from heat for a few weeks until you get the doctor’s okay that inflammation is no longer an issue.
How to Get the Most Out of a Hot Tub for Muscle Recovery
Olympians and pro athletes already know how to address the end of a workout when they’re faced with over-exerted muscles and aching joints. Hydrotherapy is a critical part of their training regime.
A hot tub offers you thermal waters for you to soak in. As you soak, you start to decrease inflammation and reduce your recovery time. Choose one where you have a headrest and adjustable jets. This way, you can get comfortable and ensure that you’re getting the most out of your time in the hot tub.
Having enough room to soak and stretch inside of the hot tub is critical. By choosing a reputable company like Ajax Pool and Spa, you can learn about the various ways to care for your hot tub that will aid in your recovery program. Once you choose the right hot tub, you will begin to explore all of the other benefits associated with spending time in the heated bubbles.
When you work hard, you should get to play hard. A hot tub can be a great way to aid your sore muscles and help to restore your flexibility. When you invest, you may also get one step closer to meeting your fitness goals.