Using Warm Water for Pain Relief 
by Anna Smith

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hot tub in snowEnjoying a hot tub in the snow.

One of the oldest known remedies for pain relief is warm water therapy.  You’ve probably felt the relaxing effects of soaking in a warm bathtub at the end of a long week. 

Warm baths are not only beneficial for stress relief and relaxation, but they can also benefit your physical body and provide pain relief.

For centuries, people have used warm water for pain relief and to reduce muscle tension.

Research has shown and continues to show that soaking in warm water works wonders for relieving pain, including chronic pain from conditions like fibromyalgia and arthritis. 

Warm Water for Pain

In general, warm water helps with joint pain by reducing the impact of gravity, which causes the compression of joints. The anti-gravity effect of immersing your entire body or the affected body parts in water reduces the pressure and can decrease swelling.

Warm water also increases circulation and can help relieve tense or sore muscles. 

The combination of decreased swelling and increased circulation often provides healing and pain relief to your joints and muscles.

In studies, most people reported that their soreness and swelling remained lower after soaking in warm water for at least 20 minutes.

The benefits lasted even longer when warm water therapy was immediately followed with stretching exercises. 

Helpful Tips for Soaking in Warm Water

Simply soaking a painful body part or your whole body in a warm bath is beneficial. The following tips will help you get the most out of using warm water for pain relief therapy.

  • Make sure the water isn’t too hot. Ideally, your bath water should be anywhere between 92 and 100 degrees F. However, if you have cardiovascular problems, you should try to stay in the lower temperature range. It is not recommended for anyone to soak in water hotter than 104 degrees F. 
  • While soaking in warm water, keep the painful joint or body part moving. Gently stretch the sore muscles or joints that you’re soaking in order to help relieve the pain and stiffness.  
  • If you have back pain, you can roll a tennis ball along the painful spots of your back to east knotted muscles. 
  • After soaking in warm water, doing a few stretching exercises while your body is still warm can help the positive effects of the therapy last longer.
  • Adding Epsom salts or other magnesium sulfate crystals to your warm bath water can further help to ease pain and swelling. These products can increase your magnesium levels which can help with muscle relaxation and pain relief, as well as help your bones and heart health. Epsom salts should be used only occasionally, however. If you have diabetes, consult your doctor first because higher levels of magnesium in your body can trigger the release of insulin.  Epsom salts and other bath salts can be found at most drug or health stores.
  • If you prefer, you can find a warm water pool to swim in instead of soaking in a warm bath. Moving around freely in a warm swimming pool can help fight stiffness and pain even more than a tub. In studies, people with arthritis and fibromyalgia reported as high as a 40 percent decrease in pain after exercising in heated swimming pools. Soaking in a thermal hot spring pool is one of the best ways to use warm water for pain relief. 

Precautions for Warm Water Therapy

While warm water works wonder on pain, there are precautions you should take as there can be risks.

Controlling the temperature of the water was already mentioned but here are a few more things you can do to minimize the risks involved in warm water therapy. 

  • If using a pool or hot tub, chemical control is important. The pH levels of the water have to be balanced properly to avoid things like urinary tract infections and similar problems. If you are using a commercial pool or hot tub, these levels are more than likely properly controlled. If you are using your own heated pool or hot tub, be sure to test and keep the pH levels at recommended levels.
  • Make sure you stay awake and alert while you soak. Warm water can make you relax and can even induce sleep in some people. While relaxation is ideal, falling asleep in the bathtub or a hot tub is dangerous. Keep yourself awake by stretching in the tub or by reading a book. If you feel that you’re starting to fall asleep, it’s best to get out before you do so in the water.
  • Be sure to drink water before and after your bath to ensure you stay hydrated.  Soaking in hot water for extended periods of time can cause dehydration.

Summary of Using Warm Water for Pain

By using warm water for pain relief, I am sure you’ll find it beneficial. If you suffer from chronic conditions, this simple remedy might give you the temporary relief you’ve been looking for. Remember to keep the precautions in mind to avoid any problems that could arise and consult with your doctor as needed.

References Warm Water Works Wonders on Pain Using Warm Water for Fibromyalgia Therapy.

Return from Warm Water for Pain Relief to Benefits of Hydrotherapy

Guest writer Anna Smith is a proud mother of three who is passionate about providing health and beauty tips and ways to live healthier with more energy! 

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