There are lots of tried and true ways to treat your body after a particularly long or hard workout. But what about hopping in the spa? Is it a good idea?
Soaking in a hot tub is a great way to unwind and ease your muscles after working out. The warm water and the soothing jets make this the perfect place to go after your workout.
Keep reading for the benefits of soaking in a hot tub after working out and our best tips on how to use a hot tub to get the most out of your workout recovery.
Should you soak in the hot tub before or after working out?
Most of the time, you should plan to soak in your hot tub after your workout. This is especially true if you have just done a long run or a particularly hard workout where you are relying on the heat and the massage features of your hot tub to soothe your muscles.
Some people prefer to soak in the hot tub quickly before a workout too. A quick soak before you work out is a way to loosen up and prepare for a workout that might require flexibility or endurance. This is not as popular as soaking afterward, but it does work well for some people, especially if you live in a cooler climate and need to warm up, or just want to avoid injury.
Or, why not get the best of both worlds and get a workout in your hot tub? I have a post featuring everything you need to get a great spa workout right here.
What are the benefits of using a hot tub after exercising?
We already know that soaking in a hot tub is a great thing to do after you work out (and sometimes before). But what can you expect to gain from using a post-workout hot tub dip?
As it turns out, there are tons of great benefits that might make you want to invest in a hot tub for muscle relaxation and recovery if you haven't already.
1. Loosen tight muscles
One of the most obvious benefits of going using your hot tub after a hard workout is that the heat of the water will help to loosen tight and sore muscles. It can help you maintain mobility if you're feeling stiff and tight.
Warmth can do wonderful things for muscles that have been taxed during a workout. Because tight, sore muscles are trying to repair the tiny micro-tears made during your workout, the feeling of being submerged in water can be incredibly soothing.
2. Increase blood flow
Soaking in any kind of warm water will help your body stimulate blood flow, especially to areas of your body that need extra attention as they repair from a tough workout.
A long soak in your hot tub is also good for your overall cardiovascular health because it can help to lower blood pressure as well, which can be helpful as well. It is a very safe and gentle way to do this without putting yourself at major risk as long as you are mindful to keep your soaks short.
3. Calm and relax your mind
So much of the focus on using a hot tub for workout recovery is focused on the physical aspects of your health, but there are also some mental health benefits that deserve mentioning.
Taking the time to soak in a hot tub after your workout can really help to improve your mood, reduce anxiety, and bring out a sense of overall calm.
This aspect is more about relaxing from the stresses of a busy day or week, but taking this time for yourself can have a significant impact on you.
Sometimes your hot tub time after a workout is the only quiet time you get to yourself away from your kids or a stressful job or lifestyle, so enjoy it. If you get bored using the spa alone, check out my other post for things you can do in a hot tub by yourself.
4. Reduce inflammation
If you work out frequently or have any underlying health conditions, chances are you have some inflammation in your body. Maybe it's an old sports injury that acts up occasionally or just something that pops up randomly, but it can be very frustrating.
Spending some time in a hot tub post-workout is a great way to fight that inflammation and soothe any pain or joint stiffness that is associated with it as well.
5. Improve sleep
If you work out in the evening, adding a hot tub soak after your workout is the perfect way to start your bedtime routine. The combination of the exertion from the workout and the soothing benefits of the hot tub will get you sleepy and ready to get a great night's sleep.
Even if you exercise early in the morning or mid-day, you can still reap the sleep benefits of using a hot tub for workout recovery. Just the act of soothing your muscles and calming your mind will put you in an overall better state physically and mentally so you are more prepared for sleep when bedtime comes around.
Can you go in the hot tub if you got sweaty during your workout?
This is really a personal choice. A lot of it also depends on whether you are going into your own personal hot tub in your home or a community hot tub at the gym or health club.
It is considered best practice not to go in a hot tub when you are sweaty or have a lot of products on your skin like thick lotions, perfumes, or sunscreens. This is just because anything on your skin and hair will stay in your hot tub and puts more tax on your hot tub's filter and may require additional chemicals to keep it clean.
If you want to keep your hot tub squeaky clean, always shower before using it.
If you are going in your own hot tub and you are ok with the extra maintenance that might be required if you go in the hot tub while you're sweaty, feel free to go for it.
If you are going to be using the hot tub at your gym, you might want to think again. I'm sure you don't want to be soaking with anyone else's sweat and grime when you go in the hot tub so it might be best to quickly rinse off in the locker room shower before jumping in the hot tub.
Should you use the hot tub jets on sore muscles?
The jets in your hot tub will be your best friend if you are using them for post-workout muscle relief.
The water jets in your hot tub are a great way to get some targeted relief to certain areas of your body that might be especially sore. Don't be afraid to sit right in front of the jets and let the water pressure work its magic on that knot in your back or another sore area that needs some love.
Will a hot bath have the same effect as a hot tub after working out?
Hot water is always going to be very soothing to sore muscles. If you don't have access to a hot tub after your workouts, you can always take a hot bath in your bathtub as well for many of the same effects.
The only real difference is that you won't have the water jets (unless you have a jacuzzi bathtub!) and that you would most likely be laying down in the tub as opposed to sitting in your hot tub.
But if all you're looking for is to submerge your body in warm water to get the benefit of soothing tight muscles, increasing blood flow, and getting some calm vibes going, a bathtub will work just fine.