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A Better Hot Bath
SpaRelax Co.,Ltd | Updated: Nov 03, 2016

 A hot bath is the original “hydrotherapy” — water treatment — and still the best. But as much as you may already enjoy a nice hot bath, you may not be tapping its full therapeutic potential. To get the most benefit out of a hot soak, here are several tips and tricks. You will probably be surprised by some of them.

A bath is a great place to do a little self-massage, perhaps to “release” muscle knots . And the perfect method: bring a ball into the bath with you and trap it under your body to apply pressure to stiff and aching muscles.

Many people avoid hot baths because they feel wilted and cruddy afterwards. Some people get post-bath headaches. This can usually be avoided by keeping a cool heador feet or hands. Or all this three. Your head, feet, and hands are good “radiators” — places where the body can get rid of heat.

As beneficial as heat can be, your body doesn’t really love being heated up entirely, with no opportunity at all for heat shedding. This creates an artificial fever. An artificial fever has its uses (more below), but it can also have some unpleasant side effects, such as headaches.

So while you’re enjoying your hot bath, pour glasses of cool water over yourself! Or drape a cool washcloth over your neck. Or spray your feet with a shower hose.

Give your body some opportunity to shed some heat. Your core body temperature will still go up (and you’ll get the benefits of that), but it will cause less physiological stress. You may be quite surprised at how much this improves your experience.

In a hot bath, oddly enough, you can really lose a quite a lot of fluid.

Sweating is an important form of excretion, and some waste metabolites are removed from the body this way. Exercise is one way to do this, of course, but a hot bath is easier — in fact, people usually sweat much more in a bath than they ever do when exercising.

Some people will call this “detoxification,” it gets thrown around way too casually (usually to make something sound more therapeutic than it really is). A good sweat is a dandy thing, but it isn’t “detoxifying” any more (or less) than having a bowel movement. It is more sensible to simply say that sweating stimulates normal elimination of waste products.

But sweating a lot in a bath also means that you must drink water — before, during, and after! This is a vital key that most people miss. If you don’t hydrate, a hot bath can be fairly stressful. I think this is actually a major reason why some people do not like baths — they get much more dehydrated than they realize, and that’s a one-way ticket to grumpy land. A headache is the most common consequence. You must replace lost fluids to feel good after a hot bath.

Drinking a lot of water is definitely not as important as most people seem to think

and there’s actually a genuine danger in the modern craze for constantly sucking on a bottle of water: you can drink too much. However, when it comes to hot baths, you definitely do need to replace lost fluids — and it’s easy to lose more than you suspect.

Hot baths are the mostly effective as a treatment for certain kinds of muscle soreness. This is surprisingly hard to prove, or even understand — it’s not exactly a hot target for research funding — but it’s pretty obvious to all of us that it works, at least sometimes. Here are some possible reasons.

Covering yourself in hot water — “systemic” heating — can do something for muscles that no hot pack can ever do. As good as a nice hot pack can feel, the effect is a minor, local, neurological effect — warm skin relaxes the muscles underneath it. That’s a nice effect, but it’s limited. A hot bath also has this effect, but it goes much deeper, it can actually increase the temperature of the muscle itself via deep heating.

Hot packs simply can’t increase the heat inside your muscles. The human body is incredibly good at temperature control, at getting rid of heat. When you try to heat a muscle with a hot pack, you end up heating just the superficial blood, which quickly gets pumped away and immediately cooled. So what to do? How to get the benefits of heating? The hot bath may work.



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