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It is completely true that you are not going to get into a tub with hot water for the same reasons for which you immerse yourself or take baths with hot water. Obviously, completely different benefits are sought, just like it happens, for example, when you treat an injury with cold or heat.
Since the Wim Hof method appeared, which combines breathing with cold therapy, immersions in ice water or ice became popular with the aim of promoting health in many ways, from reducing inflammation or muscle tension due to the practice of some sport or disease to activating and stimulating the immune system and even enhancing mental health.
Even so, many people have always preferred hot baths, which are initially more pleasant and relaxing and do not present the suffering caused by icy showers. Hence, the saunas and hot springs are always packed.
What is Thermal or Passive Heat Therapy?
According to the Pharmaceutical Journal, “thermotherapy,” also called thermal therapy,” “heat therapy,” or “passive heat therapy,” is defined as the application of any method where heat is applied to the body. It has been put to many uses and has many benefits attributed to it; however, it is most commonly used in the case of injuries or to relieve pain. The rationale is that heat causes vasodilation (widening of the blood vessels) and increases blood supply to the desired areas.
Some examples of thermotherapy are sauna baths, immersions or baths with hot water, perfusion water suits (diving type), or microwaves (diathermy).
Hot Water Immersions are a Type of Moist Thermo Therapy
Heat therapy can be dry or wet. The first can be done with heat lamps, heating patches or pads, or heating gel packs, to name a few examples. Immersions in warm or hot water tubs are forms of moist heat therapy, ranging from wet towels with hot water to paraffin wax treatments, although there are also other types of heat therapies such as those done with ultrasound or infrared light.
Benefits of Bathtubs or Baths with Hot Water, According to Science
- Relieves your stress: It has been suggested that the heat relaxes, and some studies show that it can reduce the symptoms of depression. Some research shows that hot showers can help stimulate changes in the brain that increase the secretion of hormones like serotonin.
- Activate your brain: A study done in women with fibromyalgia showed that, apart from reducing muscle pain, they can help improve cognitive function. The reason? It is possible that by causing the blood vessels to dilate, better blood flow to the brain is generated.
- Relax your muscles: Soaking in a hot tub can help improve your circulation, which will decrease muscle tension in the same way it does with the tension in your joints, or it can even prevent muscle damage caused by exercise. Also, it is a good remedy for mild and moderate pain.
- May benefit cardiovascular health: When you’re healthy, they can make your heart beat slightly faster and promote blood circulation as well. This can lower blood pressure during the heat, but after that, everything returns to normal.
- Promotes rest: they relax the body and mind. If you do it before sleep, it will help you induce it more easily.
- Relieves Pain: Relaxes muscles, joints, and tendons, which can be good for people with arthritis, fibromyalgia, or a similar condition.
- You burn calories: There are small studies that suggest that they could help increase metabolism; therefore, this would translate into burning calories.
Who can Not Take Hot Baths?
Actually, for healthy people, they are harmless, except when the water is dirty or the tubs are not washed properly, which would imply certain risks of developing infections with bacteria; however, they are not recommended or safe for pregnant women, as they increase body temperature, or for people with cardiovascular disease, as they can cause blood pressure to drop.Other conditions in which they are not recommended:
- People with alcohol abuse
- epilepsy or seizures
- Low pressure
- Injuries or open wounds
- urinary tract infections
Tips for Hot Water Immersions
Only use tubs or bathtubs (not overcrowded) that you know are adequately sanitized and in which the water has the proper levels of chemicals. Once you have chosen the place to do it, take care that the water does not exceed 40 oC, or if you do not have a thermometer handy, use a finger to evaluate the intensity of the heat (you do not want to burn yourself) and limit the time to a maximum of 15 minutes. Then hydrate properly, because you can get dehydrated.
Jump right away if you experience dizziness, nausea, flushing of the skin, or any difficulty breathing. And don’t immediately run to take a cold shower, because this can shock your body or even cause drastic changes in your blood pressure.