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IMAGE The idea of soaking in hot tubs is nothing new. The ancient Greeks and Romans recognized the healing powers of warm water and it is still the most effective treatment for some ailments.

Warm water improves circulation and helps relax muscle. It can help reduce aches of arthritis or reward muscles and joint aching from a tough workout.

Hot tubs, or spa therapy, is something you can also do at home. Before you take the plunge on your back deck, there are elements of spa ownership you should be aware of.

Spa Safety

Check with your doctor before using a spa. People with circulation or nerve problems and women who are pregnant especially need to talk to their doctor about safely using the spa. Soak safely by doing the following:

  • Maintaining the water temperature between 98°F and 104°F (between 83°F and 88°F if you are exercising in spa)
  • Gradually building up the amount of time spent in the water
  • Staying in the tub for 15 minutes or less
  • Avoiding alcoholic beverages or taking pain medicine or muscle relaxers before or during spa use
  • Getting out if you start to feel lightheaded or nauseous
  • Do not soak immediately after a heavy meal

Most hot tubs provide enough space to stretch small muscle groups supporting hands, wrists, knees, ankles, and toes. Some swim spas are even deep enough to do aerobic routines and work large muscle groups. You can even get spas that come equipped with an underwater treadmill.

Your Own Spa

If you are thinking about buying a spa for your home, test the spa before you purchase it. Sit in it, dry and wet, and ask yourself:

  • Can you move around easily?
  • Are the jets properly located to give you a good massage? Can you adjust them? Make sure the water pressure is not too powerful.
  • Does the spa provide enough room to exercise?
  • Is it easy to enter and exit? Can you add handrails, grab bars, or slip-resistant surfaces?
  • Can you buy a cover lift to remove the lid? Covers keep the water warm and clean, but are quite heavy.
  • Can you work the controls from inside the spa?
  • Can you easily access the filter?

Also evaluate features, warranties, dealer reputation, wiring, weight placement, and plumbing requirements.

Soak It All In

Whether you decide to use a spa at a health club or invest in one, let the warm waters rejuvenate and relax you.

  • American College of Rheumatology

    http://www.rheumatology.org

  • Arthritis Foundation

    http://www.arthritis.org

  • Canadian Association of Family Physicians

    http://www.cfpc.ca

  • Health Canada

    http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/index%5Fe.html

  • Bender T, Karagülle Z, Balint GP, et al. Hydrotherapy, balneotherapy, and spa treatment in pain management. Rheumatol Int. 2005;25(3):220-4.

  • Hot Tub Guide Buyers Checklist. Hot Tubs Guide website. Available at: http://www.hottubguide.com/pdfs/hot-tub-guide-checklist.pdf. Accessed December 26, 2012.

  • Safety. Association of Pool & Spa Professionals website. Available at: http://www.apsp.org/Public/Safety/SwimmingPool-WaterSafety/index.cfm. Accessed December 26, 2012.

  • Safety guidelines for hot tubs. Spa and Deck Creations website. Available at: http://www.spaanddeck.com/Spa%20tips%20and%20tricks/Safety%5FTips.htm. Accessed December 26, 2012.

  • Therapeutic Strategies for Osteogenesis Imperfecta: A Guide for Physical and Occupational Therapists. National Institues of Health Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases National Resource Center website. Available at: http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health%5FInfo/Bone/Osteogenesis%5FImperfecta/therapists%5Fguide.asp. Updated June 2005. Accessed December 26, 2012.