Are spa pools good for pain relief?

Spending time in a spa pool is known to help relax and soothe your muslces, as well as an awesome way to wind down after a busy and active day. Keep reading to learn all about how a hot tub can change your recovery process.

As we are spa experts not medical experts, we always recommend you seek a professional opinion before trying to treat pain or any health condition at home.

Is a spa or hot tub good for muscle recovery after a workout?

It’s a well known fact that hot water and hydrotherapy are great for muscle recovery. But how does it work?

High intensity interval training like F45 and crossfit is increasing in popularity with people of all ages, as more people discover the extraordinary health and fitness benefits it can deliver. If you’re new to HIIT or have been doing it a while and got some aches and pains, then a regular soak in a spa might be just what you need to aid muscle recovery and ease any aches and pains you might have.

As any good trainer will tell you – the down time between workouts is just as important as your workout routine.

Working out is good for your body and mind - but rest periods are important too. Not allowing your body to recover after exercise, whether that be simply having rest days, or making use of hydrotherapy hot tubs, or temperature therapy, can increase the likelihood of suffering an injury when you next work out. This is because the body isn’t able to fully recover from the stress of exercise, worsening your form and increasing the risk of poor quality movement.

Watch: Can spa pools help with muscle recovery after exercise?

Does a hot tub help with joint pain?

Joint inflammation from arthritis causes swelling, pain and stiffness, often resulting in the loss of joint movement or function and making exercise difficult and uncomfortable.

Immersion in warm water produces hydrostatic pressure on the body that results in reduced joint inflammation – loosening joints, reducing pain and increasing mobility.If arthritis is holding you back from the active lifestyle you crave, try adding a soak in your spa to your daily routine to help get you moving again.

Because water is buoyant, it reduces gravity’s pull on joints. When submerged, the body weighs about 90 percent less. Weight and compression of the joints, which are often the cause of pain, are diminished while still providing 360-degree support. The warm water also raises body temperature and increases circulation, which encourages better movement.

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How warm should my spa water be?

We suggest starting at your spa temperature at 38 degrees and adjusting to suit your desired temperature from here. The highest temperature should never exceed 46 degrees.

If you find that you're sweating after a tough workout, try lowering the temperature of your spa to body temperature, around 37 degrees for a more comfortable soak.

To make the most of your hot tub time, keep these tips in mind:

  • Get warmed up. When starting out, set your spa temperature at around 38 degrees.
  • Before getting in the hot tub, do some gentle stretching. The benefits of stretching while you soak will last even after you leave the hot tub.
  • After you've stretched outside, try doing some simple stretches in the hot tub. The water will take some of the pressure off your joints and add some gentle resistance.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking water before and during your hot tub session.
  • Talk with your physician before starting a warm water therapy routine and begin gradually, doing what you are comfortable with on a given day.
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Does a hot tub help with inflammation?

The warm waters of a hot tub elicit a physiological response from the body in much the same way exercise does, but without the physical stresses and impacts that come with a workout.

If you struggle with inflammation it might help to start by warming up in the spa before you try working out, whether it’s a walk or gentle cardio exercise it’s best to warm those muscles first to avoid further inflamation. The heat widens blood vessels, which sends nutrient-rich blood throughout your body. Warm water also brings down swelling and loosens tight muscles. And the water's buoyancy takes weight off painful joints. A dip in the hot tub might also help your mental state.

Before you exercise you can try:

  • A quick 10-20-minute soak in the spa pool. This will help get the blood flowing and loosen up your muscles.

  • Assist your inflammation healing by spending at least 10 minutes stretching out those warm muscles before you start your workout (you could even do some gentle stretches while you're in the hot tub).

  • After you exercise, let your muscles and your heart rate cool down by trying a gentle walk or stretching. Then, take advantage of a hot tub session to help your mind and body relax and to stimulate the healing and recovery process.

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How do I recover effectively?

The type of recovery you should be doing depends on the intensity of your exercise regime, as well as the severity of your pain.

For example, an athlete maintaining vigorous daily training sessions is more likely to require immediate recovery to help prepare the muscles for their next session. A casual gym goer however, can recover by resting in between sessions where needed.

For those looking for a quicker but effective recovery time, hydrotherapy is an excellent option, as it helps to massage the muscles and relieves swelling. This involves the use of water for pain relief, and is particularly effective at treating knee and joint pain, while it’s also used for muscle therapy.

Both hot and cold therapy are also effective at treating muscular pain, but work in different ways. Heat therapy increases the blood flow to the affected area, which helps to improve muscle flexibility and can soothe aching joints. Cold therapy reduces the blood flow helping to reduce swelling and inflammation.

Stiffness and sore muscles are common in exercise, however if you do suffer an injury, you should always rest it. Avoid exercising the affected muscles and seek medical help if the pain is severe.

Read more about using a spa pool for recovery.

Watch: Are spa pools good for pain relief? A spa owner’s review


If you struggle with stiffness and sore muscles after exercising, then warm water hydrotherapy might be a great option for you. If you don’t have access to a spa pool, there are many public aquatic centres that offer spa pools as well as saunas, perfect for recovery.

Be aware, that if you do suffer from pain or injury you should always consult with a professional.

If you are looking for more information on hydrotherapy you can check out our other articles below.

As always, if you need any more help or advice, feel free to drop into your local Spa World Showroom.

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