The History And Health Benefits Of Hot Tubs
For many years, hot tubs and home spas were the exclusive luxuries of the wealthy. They were expensive to buy, expensive to operate and not very reliable. With the onset of better manufacturing and better materials, and lower prices, however, the popularity of hot tubs and home spas began to soar.
Spas Throughout History
History gives us many examples of spas being used as integral parts of life for many civilizations. The Romans are perhaps the most famous for their bathhouses, which became centers of social life and a common daily activity for the elite classes. Other cultures made use of spa-like hot baths as well, including the ancient peoples of China and Japan.
What did these civilizations know that others didn’t? Setting aside technological differences, some of the earliest spa enthusiasts appreciated the health benefits of using hot water to relax the body, open the pores of the skin, and generally promote better health. Cleanliness was considered healthful and a sign of prosperity – after all, you had to be pretty well off to afford the bath facilities themselves and to have the leisure time to partake of their benefits.
Hot Tub Hydrotherapy
As medical science has advanced, there has been an increased awareness of the benefits of hot tub hydrotherapy. Many medical conditions, injuries and other health problems can be eased or improved with regular hydrotherapy treatments.
For example, people with arthritis, multiple sclerosis, paralysis and other conditions that involve deteriorating range of motion benefit from time spent in a hot tub. The warm water helps ease aches and pains, while loosening joints and making them easier to move and keep mobile.
Joint problems, chronic back pain and other painful conditions resulting from injuries are also helped with regular hot tub hydrotherapy. Those seeking stress relief, general relaxation, and quiet opportunities for conversation commonly experience significant hot tub benefits as well.
Modern Spa and Hot Tub Hydrotherapy
Modern technology, materials and production processes make it possible to design and build home spas and hot tubs with highly specialized hydrotherapy features. These features are typically based on a combination of seating position, jet position and jet function. Let’s look at each of these aspects in turn.
Seating Position – Traditional hot tub seating was bench-style, typically in a round shape and at a uniform depth so that everyone sat at the same level in the tub. This made it challenging for people of different heights to fully benefit from hot tub therapy.
With the development of molded fiberglass spa shells came the development of different shapes and sizes of seats. Manufacturers began to include lounge seats, where the bather reclines in the water, as well as seats to accommodate bathers of different heights. Some also included deeper seats, designed to fully immerse the bather and allow placement of jets in specific positions for specific benefits.
Jet Position – Moldable shell manufacturing made it possible for the first time to place jets in nearly any position within the tub. Manufacturers began experimenting with placing jets in places where they would focus on specific areas of the body, such as the back, neck, shoulders, arms and legs.
The earliest jets were single-action nozzles with limited ability to adjust where they were aimed or the intensity of the jet action. This made it difficult to use them in positions where they would affect more tender areas of the body, such as wrists, forearms, ankles, feet and knees. As manufacturers developed more advanced jets with a wider variety of functionality, though, the technology of hydrotherapy advanced significantly.
Jet Function – Modern hot tubs and spas can be customized with a surprising variety of jets that range from multi-purpose to highly specialized. Buyers often are able to select exactly which jets to install in specific locations within their hot tub or home spa.
The most common types of jets available today include:
• Swirl jets – water swirls in a circular pattern, with a massaging action that covers a wide area
• Whirlpool jets – a large, round jet that concentrates pressure in a specific area
• Mini jets – smaller than standard jets, they are often grouped together in clusters, especially in massage and therapy seats
• Pillow jets – combines massaging action for the neck with a pillow designed to let the bather rest their head without going under water
• Shoulder jets – positioned above the water line to focus attention of specific parts of the shoulder
• Moving massage jets – this oval-shaped jet moves back and forth in a sweeping motion to provide pulsating therapy
The benefits of different jet types have grown substantially with the development of independent seating control. In older spas and hot tubs, one set of controls ran all of the therapy jets, but independent seating control allows each bather to control the strength and intensity of therapy in their own individual seat.
Hydrotherapy for Fitness
The latest technology in hydrotherapy involves using jetted tubs for fitness purposes. This new generation of home spas is elongated in shape and allows the bather to choose traditional spas functions or switch over to functions that allow for a vigorous workout. They are commonly referred to as swim spas.
A swim spa has powerful jets that set up a strong resistance current that allows the user to swim as if in a full sized lap pool. The elongated shape allows even the tallest people to stretch out into a full-length stroke and the center depth is such that even a full arm extension will not bump into the bottom of the spa.
Adjustable current jets make it possible to adjust workout intensity depending on the user’s fitness level, and increase intensity over time as the level of fitness improves.
Spas and hot tubs have been around in one form or another for centuries, but only in the last few decades have technology, materials and manufacturing improved to the point where a home spa is affordable enough and reliable enough to be within reach of most people.
Hot tub hydrotherapy is one of the most popular and effective ways to treat a wide variety of medical conditions, injuries, or simply promote relaxation and stress relief. Once you have experienced the benefits of a home spa or hot tub, you will wonder how you ever lived without one!