Hot tubs relax the body and ease everyday aches and pains. For this reason, many athletes own spas or frequent them on rest days. Although your hot tub might tempt you into a brief soak after a workout, doing so may do more harm than good.
Internal Body Temperature
As you exercise, your core temperature rises. By immersing yourself in hot water when your body is already warm, you can overwork your heart. Your heart will pump blood extra hard to cool itself, but the effort will be futile. The extra work merely produces dizziness, nausea and fatigue. Sometimes, the risks are much worse.
That said, once your pulse returns to its normal speed, soaking in the hot tub can reduce post-workout pain and increase your range of motion. In fact, using a hot tub before working out can improve circulation and flexibility, helping to prevent injury. This is especially true in colder climates for outdoor fitness (i.e. running).
Spending too long in a hot tub causes your body to sweat, which can lead to dehydration. Especially following a workout, your water intake should increase, so losing fluids through your pours is counterproductive. Rather than kicking back in the hot tub, spend time drinking water and cooling down.
The Cool-Plunge-Hot-Tub Dance
CorePerformance.com suggests jumping into 55-degree (Fahrenheit) water following a workout. At this temperature, muscle inflammation decreases. After only a few minutes, you can slip into the hot tub to stimulate blood flow and aid in muscle recovery. Repeating this process makes for a great post-workout wind-down routine.
If you do not own a pool, then you can emulate this process by taking a cold shower prior to entering the hot tub. Showering then using a sauna can have a similar effect. It’s actually common practice in many health centres and gyms.