Call it hydrotherapy or spa day, baths are for more than just getting clean. With the flood of luxurious bath products it's no wonder people are treating them like a relaxing at-home vacation. But there's more to the tub than just bubbles. The warm water combined with full body submersion has numerous health benefits and is a great way to get natural relief.
So whether you've got a health condition or the usual aches and pains, baths may just be your solution. Try settling down for:
A new study
conducted on chronic migraine patients revealed that hydrotherapy (a fancy way of saying water therapy) has a significant difference to their pain level and frequency of headaches and migraines. And it didn't even need to be a full bath. Foot baths and an ice massage can be just as effective for those that don't have time for a bath every day. Adding lavender
or peppermint to the warm water activates a kind of aromatherapy that helps fight off the pain. But don't soak too long or in too hot of water or you could catch another headache all over again.
2. Nerve And Muscle Pain
A cold bath works better than ice packs or cold massages at reducing nerve pain. It may be because submerging yourself all at once gives the cold a wider area than a small ice pack but the results stand. That is, if you can stand an ice bath. If you can't, it's not a secret a hot shower after working out feels great. A hot bath would feel better. The temperature relaxes muscles and joints and keeps you from tensing up after a hard workout. Or take a bath before stretching to really warm up your muscles and reduce strain and pain. Studies also show that those with chronic pain from fibromyalgia felt better with daily baths.
3. Skin Care
Several types of baths can help reduce the symptoms of skin conditions. Soaking in oatmeal calms irritated skin and soothes itch. It's great for fungal infections, poison ivy or severely dry skin. Other simple ingredients like apple cider vinegar
, herbs and bath salts
can help naturally cleanse skin and kill bacteria without man-made irritants. By soaking in a tub instead of applying topically, you gain the ability to absorb them without rubbing or distressing you skin further.
4. Gut Health
If you're one of many suffering from IBS or just need help feeling regular, warm baths can decrease discomfort and pain. Water increases blood circulation and motivates bowel movements. So if you've ever gotten in a bath and gotten mad about having to get back out again to use the toilet, it's not entirely your fault. Warm water also calms uncomfortable colon spasms and helps reduce tenderness and pain from anal fissures. Studies have found a warm bath to be just as effective in most cases at relieving digestion pain as medication and much cheaper. Who knew?
5. Heart Health
Temperature of the bath can improve circulation to limbs. Heat from the hot water causes blood vessels to open (called vesodilation) and help you regulate your body temperature. The pressure of the water and the heat also work together to give your heart a slight workout. It's one of the reasons hot baths make you tired and groggy. It's been discovered that a regular bath can help regulate blood pressure, perfect for those watching their numbers. But what's interesting is that immersion in Dead Sea salt
water is proven
to decrease blood sugar in Type 2 diabetes patients. Come on, that's really cool. Talk to your doctor before taking a hot soak if you have a heart condition, though. Some conditions can be made worse by the heat.
Like most things, baths are what you make them and you can make a bath something truly amazing. Not only do they offer the above benefits but you can add to them with a few extra ingredients.
used during bathing can reduce stress levels and improve your mood significantly. Not only do the scents trigger receptors in your brain but many oils offer healthy skin and hair benefits too. Learn more about aromatherapy here
The steam from a bath can help open up the airways for better sinuses. This helps relieve head pressure. It's like bathing in a cup of tea. Just be sure to check the temperature before getting in.
We've written before
about how salt baths can help you sweat and make you feel detoxified. Adding Epsom salt
adds minerals to the bath that your skin absorbs. Not only is it relaxing but it's also a great way to soften skin.
For people with skin conditions
like Eczema, diluting a small amount of bleach in your bath could help kill bacteria on the skin. A single center study recorded the findings and it's become a popular practice. Of course with all things chemical, be extra careful and talk with your doctor before starting this treatment. Use only a half cup of bleach for a full tub, half that for a half bath. Soak no more than 10 minutes and not more than 3 baths a week.
For more fun in the tub, check out our blog on making your own Bath Bomb
Soak or Stand
There might've been a reason you weren't taking a bath. You need to commit to the time spent in filling and soaking in the tub. It's also a known fact that bathtubs use more water than showers so the environmental-savvy have a right to be skeptical. They also give you a larger area to clean. (Or is that just me?) Showers are just easier.
I'm not an all-or-nothing type of person so I'll argue for the once-a-week (or at least once in awhile) approach. Showers only use less water if it lasts ten minutes or less. If you have a low-flow showerhead, you can get away with a little longer. Those that dawdle in the shower are already valuing the time in the hot water more than the money or usage. Converting to a tub will improve your routine. If you take a low-flow ten-minute-or-less shower all the time, you can justify the extra water usage spent on a bath. Call it banking your water.
Really, it's about what you value. Adding a break to your schedule can help reduce stress and give you something to look forward to. Sometimes we need that to get us through the week. Or month. We can use it as a form of meditation that can improve mental health which is as important as physical health.
You should also treat it like part of your workout. Adding it to your weekly routine can improve your muscle ache and puts you in the mentality of putting your body first. A lot of us focus on pushing ourselves to the limit but forget to take care of ourselves. A bath slows you down and gets you to focus on your body.
Whether you're convinced or not, we can at least agree that baths have evolved from our days of childhood torture. Let me know if you're a bath or shower person and why on our Facebook
pages. Tune in next week for another new blog and happy living!