What's Better—A Hot Tub Or Ice Bath For Sore Back Trouble?
When you have chronic back pain, you'll try just about anything to get relief. But is heat or cold better for back pain? And, could alternating between hot and cold help with back pain? While there are plenty of benefits to hot and cold therapies, it's not always clear whether hot or cold is best for a specific back pain situation. Let's cover some of the facts about using hot tubs and cold tubs for sore back trouble.
What Is A Cold Tub?
Cold tubs are ice baths specifically designed for home use. One example is RENU's Cold Stoic TM Plunge Tank. Cold immersion therapy is proven to help treat inflammation, muscle soreness, and high blood pressure. Many cold immersion therapy mavens report elevated mood and better mindfulness as well. Home cold tubs are hard to beat for people with chronic sore back issues. So how does cold water immersion at home work?
How Do Ice Baths Work?
RENU cold water immersion tubs help you ease into an ice bath routine by providing a wide range of operating temperatures. RENU cold tubs can reach temperatures as low as 39º F, but when starting with ice baths for treating your sore back, RENU enables you to adjust to milder temperatures (55º F is a good starting point for many new plungers). When first starting out, it's good to take it easy and only stay in for a few minutes at a time until you acclimate to the cold.
Is Heat Therapy Good For A Sore Back?
Cold tub therapy is proven effective for alleviating back pain, but what about a hot tub? Sometimes heat can be a soothing remedy, but this depends heavily on the underlying reason for the pain. For those with rheumatoid arthritis, heat can actually make matters worse. Let's examine deeper what uses hot tubs have for sore backs.
Hot Tubs Are Helpful For Muscle Relaxation
If your sore back is due to muscle stiffness or over-training the area, hot tubs may be useful for getting relief. Heat relaxes muscles, easing tension and dilating blood vessels to increase blood flow. If you're having muscle spasms, heat can be a good remedy.
When doing hot tub therapy, keep in mind, heat requires hydration. If you use a sauna or hot tub for your sore back, be sure to stay hydrated.
What About Contrast Therapy?
Some athletes swear by contrast therapy, but is it right for treating a sore back? Contrast therapy is the technique of alternating cold tub therapy with a hot tub or hot sauna use. Let's examine more about contrast therapy and its potential as a treatment for a chronically sore back.
Cold Is Better Than Heat When Injured
When your sore back is the result of injury rather than simple muscle soreness, it's better to use cold to treat your pain. Hot tubs should be avoided for a few days at a minimum after an injury. Instead, take a cold plunge in an ice bath to reduce inflammation.
How Do Cold Baths Reduce Inflammation?
Ice bath immersion causes your blood vessels to constrict, reducing inflammation. Generally, the colder the water, the more effective the treatment, down to around 39 degrees. After a hard workout, muscles and joints often swell, increasing muscle recovery time and risk of injury. Taking an ice-cold bath rapidly reduces swelling, helping ease back soreness and aiding recovery after injury.
Can Ice Baths Boost Sports Performance?
Preventing delayed onset muscle soreness is one of the primary aims of many athletes. Muscle soreness can lead to reduced sports performance due to the stiffening of movements and shifting loads from sore muscles to other parts of the body, creating an imbalance and the potential for injury.
Once delayed onset muscle soreness sets in, it can take days to recover, inhibiting performance. A primary benefit of taking ice baths regularly is the reduction of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). When you want maximum prevention of post-exercise DOMS, look no further than ice baths!
When Should You Take An Ice Bath?
Whether night or day, ice baths can be beneficial for a sore back. While most folks take ice baths directly after a high-intensity workout in the heat, they're also great for treating sports injuries. Ice baths can even be taken in the afternoon to liven up your mental state.
How Long Should You Submerge In Ice baths?
When taking ice baths for a sore back in a RENU cold tub, it's critical to limit your sessions to ten minutes. Always consult your doctor before starting ice bath therapy for your sore back. While more exposure to ice baths may boost your endurance to cold, a strict routine and close self-monitoring are essential.
Are There Risks When Taking Ice Baths?
Although the thought of sore back relief may tempt you to dive into ice baths for as long as you can stand, it's important to start slowly. Start by taking cold showers 30 days prior to initiating an ice bath immersion routine for the first time.
Here are some helpful tips when first starting out with ice baths:
- Limit your ice bath therapy sessions to ten minutes
- Talk to your doctor about the ideal amount of ice bath time for you
- Practice breath control regularly with techniques from experts like Wim Hof
- Understand the four phases of cold water immersion and what your safe limits are
What’s The Best Way To Recover After A Hard Workout?
The fastest way to recover after a hot and hard workout is by immersing yourself in an ice bath as soon as you're finished. Beyond reducing inflammation, you'll lower your core body temperature as well. If you own a RENU Therapy cold plunge tub, instant cool-downs are possible every day!
Relieve Your Sore Back With A RENU Cold Tub
RENU hand-makes every cold plunge tub 100% in the USA. RENU has the best cold tub warranty coverage and strives every day for 100% customer satisfaction!
Our multiple cold plunge tub designs enable you to match your home's aesthetics perfectly. Every RENU cold immersion therapy tub boasts a world-class design and quality craftsmanship that enhances the beauty of your home's surroundings.