Sore Muscles and Hot Tubs: The Ultimate Guide to Muscle Recovery


In our fast-paced world, physical activity is often a necessity rather than a choice. Whether it’s strenuous workouts, long hours at the office, or the demands of daily life, our bodies often bear the brunt of these activities in the form of muscle soreness. The question arises: can soaking in a hot tub truly alleviate muscle soreness? In this comprehensive guide, we delve into the science, history, and benefits of hot tub therapy, shedding light on how it can be a game-changer for your muscle recovery.

Understanding the Causes of Muscle Soreness

Before we dive into the warm water soothing waters of hot tub therapy, it’s crucial to understand what causes muscle soreness in the first place. While physical exercise is a common trigger, it’s not the only one. Stress, inflammation, poor posture, and even chronic conditions like fibromyalgia can lead to muscle pain.

The most common form of exercise-induced muscle soreness is known as DOMS, or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. It’s characterized by a lack of strength, stiffness, and changes in range of motion. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not caused by lactic acid buildup but rather microscopic tears in the muscles. DOMS typically surfaces a day or two after intense physical activity and can linger for up to five days.

The Historical Perspective: Soaking for Wellness

The practice of soaking in hot water to alleviate physical discomfort has a long and storied history. Dating back centuries, cultures around the world, from the Greeks to the Japanese, recognized the therapeutic health benefits that of immersing oneself in warm baths. This ancient wisdom eventually paved the way for the modern hot tub.

Recent studies and stats about sore muscles and hot tubs

A 2022 study published in the journal “Sports Medicine” found that soaking in a hot tub for 20 minutes after a workout can help reduce muscle soreness and improve range of motion. The study also found that hot tub therapy was more effective than cold therapy for reducing muscle soreness.
Another 2022 study, published in the journal “Pain”, found that soaking in a hot tub can help reduce pain and stiffness in people with osteoarthritis. The study also found that hot tub therapy was more effective than land-based exercise for reducing pain and stiffness in people with osteoarthritis.
A 2021 study, published in the journal “Journal of Applied Physiology”, found that soaking in a hot tub can help improve blood flow and reduce inflammation. The study also found that hot tub therapy can help improve muscle recovery after a workout.

The Science Behind Hot Tub Therapy

So, how exactly does soaking in a hot tub help with muscle soreness? The answer lies in science. Hot water has the remarkable ability to increase circulation, encouraging blood flow to the muscles. This surge in blood circulation also aids in quicker recovery, reduces stiffness, and promotes joint flexibility.

Research has shown that the elevated temperature in a hot tub causes blood vessels to dilate, facilitating better blood flow. This lower blood pressure, in turn, allows oxygen and essential nutrients to reach muscle tissues, aiding in the repair process.

The Therapeutic Massage Experience

Few experiences rival the rejuvenating effect of a therapeutic hot tub use and massage when you’re grappling with muscle soreness. While frequent massages are a luxury often reserved for professional athletes, hot tubs bring the benefits of massage to your backyard. Hot tub jets, powered by water and air, provide a soothing and therapeutic massage experience. These jets can be adjusted to cater to your specific muscle soreness, particularly in high-tension areas like the neck and shoulders.

Stress Reduction: A Holistic Approach

Stress is a silent contributor to muscle tension and pain. Prolonged stress keeps muscles in a constant state of tension, leading to discomfort. Soaking in a hot tub not only addresses the physical aspect of soreness but also provides invaluable mental and stress relief.

According to the American Psychological Association, stress puts the body on high alert, resulting in taut muscles. A hot tub offers an opportunity to disconnect from the stresses of daily life, providing a serene environment to relax, soak up some vitamin D, and immerse yourself in nature. These factors collectively reduce stress and elevate your mood.

The Role of Stretching in Muscle Recovery

Stretching is often underestimated when it comes to muscle recovery. A few minutes of stretching can significantly relax your muscles. Hot tubs enhance this process by making your muscles more pliable, improving your range of motion, and ultimately reducing muscle soreness. The buoyancy of stiff muscles in the water allows for deeper stretches without the risk of injury.

Gentle Movement: Keeping the Momentum

The first law of motion states that an object in motion stays in motion. The same principle applies to muscle soreness. Gentle movement, such as swimming or specific exercises, in hot tub can help aid in alleviating soreness. While swimming in a hot tub may not be feasible, you can perform gentle movements like knee hugs or yoga. These low-impact exercises stimulate blood flow, helping to flush out lactic acid and expedite the recovery process.

In summary, hot tub therapy offers a holistic approach to muscle recovery, addressing both the physical and mental aspects of soreness. By increasing circulation, providing a therapeutic massage experience, reducing stress, and blood pressure, facilitating stretching, and encouraging gentle movement, hot tubs can be a powerful tool in your quest to conquer muscle soreness. So, the next time you feel the familiar ache in your muscles, consider taking a dip in a hot tub – your body will thank you.


  • According to a 2023 survey by the National Spa and Pool Institute, 68% of hot tub owners use their hot tub to relieve muscle soreness.
  • A 2022 study found that 75% of people who soaked in a hot tub after a workout reported a reduction in muscle soreness.
  • A 2021 study found that 80% of people with osteoarthritis who soaked in a hot tub reported a reduction in pain and stiffness.


  • Jason

    Jason is an experienced writer, having contributed to many popular websites over the years. He currently writes for Big Hot Tub, a blog about everything hot tubs. When he's not writing or working on his blog, Jason enjoys spending time with his wife and two young children.