The Warm Bath
Rolling into the fall season, we welcome the return of warm baths. Hydrotherapy also known as “water cures” has many forms. One of the most accessible is right in our home: the warm bath. Hydrotherapy has historically been an approach that was used to increase the body’s resilience and resistance to disease. A warm bath after your massage encourages and prolongs deep healing and mental relaxation.
Warm Bath Benefits Backed by Science
1. Baths can improve brain function.
The improvements in blood circulation aren’t just great for aches and pains, it can also help get things pumping in your head. Research shows neck-depth immersion may enhance brain blood flow that may improve brain functions, including cognition and memory.
2. Baths lower blood sugar and burn calories.
Forget the gym, take a bath. Well, maybe not all the time. But, if you’re ever sick, injured, or not feeling up to your usual workout, it turns out a bath can help lower blood sugar and burn calories similar to moderate exercise. In a
small study conducted in 2017, researchers recruited 14 men (both lean and overweight) and had them either exercise or soak in a hot bath for an hour. They then compared how many calories were burned in each session, as well as measured their blood sugar for 24 hours and found both conditions lead to similar results.
3. Baths can lower blood pressure and improve cardiovascular health.
Studies have shown that lifelong sauna use can improve heart health, but could hot baths have the same effect? The short answer: yes. Researchers investigated the effects of 8 weeks of repeated hot water immersion (‘heat therapy’) on heart health in young, sedentary humans. Among other things, heat therapy improved arterial stiffness and lowered blood pressure, indicating improved cardiovascular health. Yet again, the changes were similar to or even greater than what is typically observed in sedentary subjects with exercise.
4. Baths help people fall asleep faster and sleep better.
We all know how relaxing a hot bath can be, so it’s probably no surprise that it can help improve sleep. Researchers refer to it as “passive body heating” and it works because our body temperature and sleep are interrelated processes. Among other things, changes in temperature may trigger relevant brain areas to initiate sleep. In a small study conducted in France, women who soaked in warm baths for 90 minutes before bed had significant increases in: sleepiness at bed-time, slow-wave sleep, and stage 4 deep sleep. Another study found that participants fell asleep faster after taking a bath. Just hold off on the shut-eye until after you’re out of the tub.
Getting out of a deep bath hack:
Have you ever felt light headed when getting out of a deep tub? This has to do with the pressure of the water being release from your body as you stand up. This can cause a sharp drop in blood pressure, leaving you feeling light headed and dizzy. The safest way to get out of a deep tub of water is to drain the tub before getting out.
Author: Lynne Carroll was a hydrotherapy instructor at the West Coast College of Massage Therapy and travels the world seeking healing waters
and therapies. She encourages hydrotherapy to her clients at Solace as a complementary treatment to massage therapy.