After a long day, there’s nothing better than soaking/bathing to relieve your aching back and feet. That’s right. All you need in order to vastly improve your well-being is a lovely soak in your tub.

Soaking/bathing doesn’t just relieve pain; it also reduces swelling and inflammation. With the following tips, you can be on your way to a healthier, happier you without having to spend a dime.

How to Use Soaking/Bathing to Reduce Pain

Soaking/bathing is known for its pain-relieving properties. Sinking down into a tub full of hot water relaxes your muscles. Warm water therapy also relieves mental tension, which is one reason soaking/bathing before bed helps you fall asleep more easily. A good old-fashioned hot bath is the original form of hydrotherapy.

According to Bruce E. Becker, MD, director of the National Aquatics & Sports Medicine Institute at Washington State University in Spokane, research has found that soaking/bathing is as effective as we always thought it was.

Becker explained:

The research shows our ancestors got it right. It makes you feel better. It makes the joints looser. It reduces pain and it seems to have a somewhat prolonged effect that goes beyond the period of immersion.

Pain-relieving foot soak

A pain-relieving foot soak is a time-tested method of soothing your aching feet after a long day. You can even buy foot baths that have whirlpool functions and heaters to keep the water warm. Mark D. Sussman, DPM says that soaking your feet in Epsom salts can help to revitalize them and ease your foot pain. He advises that you rinse your feet with clear water after soaking them in Epsom salts and then follow up with a moisturizing foot cream.

Sussman also noted that switching between hot and cold can be beneficial. Try holding your feet under the running water in your bathtub or use a shower-massage attachment. Alternate hot and cold water every minute. This treatment is quite popular in European spas.

Bath soak for back pain

Soaking/bathing has long eased back pain. A long soak in a hot tub can relax the stiff muscles of your back. Heat therapy helps to reduce back pain in two ways. First, it stimulates blood flow. This brings nutrients to the affected area, which promotes healing. Second, heat therapy blocks the pain messages that are being sent from your back to your brain.

But there are more benefits to a hot bath than just the heat. The buoyancy of the water reduces the effects of gravity on the body, and relieves compression of spinal joints. Soaking/bathing is the easiest way to submerge your back. This gives you the benefits of both the heat and the water. Remember not to overdo it. Stick to warm, rather than hot, water.

Bath remedies for back pain

If you want to take your soaking/bathing experience to the next level, try adding something special to take things up a notch. Epsom salts are as helpful for back pain as they are for foot pain. When placed in water, Epsom salts break down into magnesium and sulfate. It is believed that these minerals are absorbed through the skin while you are soaking/bathing. However, don’t think that you are limited to plain old Epsom salts because you surely aren’t.

There are many bath remedies to help relieve back pain available on the market today. Some of these products combine Epsom salts with sea salts and essential oils. If you prefer to go the do it yourself route, there are also recipes online so that you can make your own bath remedies for back pain at home. One DIY recipe that looked particularly intriguing uses coconut oil, Epsom salts, eucalyptus essential oil, lavender essential oil, and ground cinnamon.

Soaking/bathing with epsom salts can relieve pain. Photo of man and woman in bathrobes sitting on side of a soaking tub.

Ice bath

Full disclosure, this one has always sounded scary to me. I’ve never been big on the cold, but the possible benefits may be worth getting over this fear and taking a plunge. Ice baths can help repair sore muscles because they promote the removal of toxins. In particular, ice baths help the body remove lactic acid. When lactic acid builds up in the body, it can lead to fatigue. Ice baths also help reduce swelling.

According to Mike Reinold, the head physical therapist for the Boston Red Sox, “the proposed mechanisms of this includes reducing inflammation, flushing out muscles due to constriction of blood cells, decreasing metabolic activity, and compressing the muscles through hydrostatic pressure.”

However, the research on ice baths is confusing. Not all of these studies have found ice baths to be beneficial. “Some studies have even shown an increase in delayed muscle soreness. So the use of ice baths is not clearly safe and effective,” Reinold added.

Use Soaking/Bathing to Ease Your Pain Today

For centuries, people have used soaking/bathing to reduce their pain levels. Whether it is your feet or your back that are throbbing in pain, soaking/bathing can help. Not only does it work, but it is an all natural solution to a near universal problem. Use these tips to start lowering your pain levels today from the comfort of your own home.

Remember not to overdo it on the heat, stick to warm water rather than steaming hot. Try to keep your head out of the water so you can release some of the heat you are soaking up. This can make it more comfortable to spend longer amounts of time soaking/bathing without overheating. Be especially careful of very hot and cold temperatures if you have heart trouble or any other ailments that could make you less able to tolerate these extremes.


Featured image CC by A-SA 4.0 International, by  Schappelle , via Wikimedia Commons

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