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How Hot Tubs Help Athletes

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No doubt athletes take a physical toll on their bodies, competing and performing in events. From football players to gymnasts, all types of athletes often get hurt. Sports like football, baseball, basketball, wrestling and others can injure your tendons, muscles, and bones. Additionally, many athletes complain of stiff or sore muscles. This can cause them to sit out an event or even end their careers. Over the years, athletes and physical therapists have found many ways to combat these injuries and help soothe them. These can include stretching, ice baths, physical therapy, heating pads, and even hot tubs.

You may not believe it, but hot tubs have many benefits that soothe your body and help in recovery. Using water to aid in recovery is called hydrotherapy. Hydrotherapy is often done by performing exercises or movements in warm water. Other times, it’s using warm water to soothe the body. Pools and hot tubs are often the used to accomplish this. We are going to focus on hot tubs, but both can benefit you before and after exercise.

Before Exercising

Soaking in a hot tub before exercising can loosen up muscles and deter from injuries. This makes it easier to exercise and can allow for better performance. Tight and stiff muscles can lead to tears and strains. The hot water helps the body’s blood vessels expand, allowing more blood flow to these areas. Soaking your body before a workout can also relieve former injuries that may persist and hinder your performance and help you de-stress, relax, and gain focus.

After Exercise

After  strenuous exercise or activity, a hot tub has many benefits. Once again, the warm waters will expand these blood vessels allowing more blood flow to your sore and stiff areas. The jets can even be used to target specific areas of the body and relieve aches and pains. The water warm can help you relax after a workout and release any built-up tension or stress. Performing can often leave you mentally drained; a hot tub soak can help you unwind and relax mentally as well. A 15-minute soak in a hot tub after a workout can aid in foot aches, lower back pains, and ease the symptoms of arthritis, osteoporosis, muscle strains, sprains, and other injuries. The water can take pressure off joints, easing pain and helping movement.

Soaking in a hot tub an hour before bed has even been shown to help people fall asleep faster. The warm water helps slow down the production of stress hormones in the body, allowing you to clear your mind before bed.

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LeBron James in an ice bath. Photo from @kingjames on Instagram.

Sports Teams That Use It

Hydrotherapy hot tubs are so popular and recommended by physical therapists that some sports teams have them included in their training facilities or locker rooms. The University of Nebraska’s training facility includes two stainless steel hot tubs for their athletes. In 2014, Texas A & M renovated their training facilities to include both hot and cold hydrotherapy pools in a room with eight HD TV’s mounted in the walls and a floor-to ceiling water wall. In 2020, Georgia Tech renovated their women’s basketball locker room with a hydrotherapy area, including hot and cold tubs to assist in student-athletes’ everyday recovery and rehabilitation. Even the New York Yankees have hydrotherapy pools in their stadiums to help their athletes.

While we don’t encourage his routine, popular basketball star LeBron James has a pre-game and post-game routine involving a hot tub. LeBron’s trainer, Mike Mancias, explained “The contrast that we do is either pre-game or post-game, pre-practice or post-practice. It consists of a hot tub or a cold tub, or an ice tub (and) a hot shower—on the road, you have to be resourceful. The basics of it is starting hot for five minutes, (next) you go to cold for five minutes, then you do about three cycles of that.” The Jackie Robinson training facility also has a hydrotherapy area.

Many athletes live by the benefits of hydrotherapy. Just 15 mins a day can greatly help improve your performance and recovery. With a hot tub, workout recovery has never been more enjoyable.



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Samuels, D. (2014, July 31). Texas A&M’s renovated facility puts it among the best in CFB. Retrieved from Football Scoop:

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