As an exercise and yoga instructor, I have often observed students or clients losing motivation if they are not enjoying themselves while they exercise. In fact, there are not many things in life that can claim to be both healthy and pleasurable; soaking in hot water is a great exception! Adding in some easy-to-do “feel-good” stretching can make your hot tub experience an awesome combo of relaxation and renewal.
Many of us suffer from issues of the back, shoulders, neck, and hips. Hot water raises our body temperature, improving circulation as well as releasing endorphins. This warmth can relieve minor aches and pains, relieve headaches, strengthen our immune system and improve sleep.
Flexibility can also help to alleviate many of these issues, but where to start if your muscles are more like a steel girder than a rubber band? The answer: your hot tub or spa! The warmth of the water will nicely prepare your muscles and connective tissues for stretching. The buoyancy of the water also helps to reduce stress on your joints as you move.
Stretching in your hot tub can be done by yourself, or you can partner up for assisted stretching. My husband is a great example of someone who is unlikely to stretch on his own, though he knows his legs and back are tight. When he and I soak together, my encouragement usually comes in the words “Give me your foot”. After a few minutes of great hamstring stretch and deep breaths, he appreciates the relief from the stretch as much as a foot massage! (Well okay…almost as much!) Anybody can benefit from stretching in their hot tub or spa:
can benefit from post-exercise stretches, as it aids in the removal of lactic acid build-up in the muscles for decreased soreness and pain after a work-out.
will appreciate the easing of stiff joints and tight muscles after a hot tub yoga practice.
Overstressed and Overwhelmed?
You can end your day with a soak and stretches. Afterward you may find yourself feeling calm, relaxed, anxiety free and appreciative!
Good ways to Get Started
- Hamstring Stretch – Great for your lower back! Using a strap or band of any sorts will help if you are not able to hold your foot. Place the band around one foot, and extend that leg straight (or as straight as you can). Then, bend your knee to your chest. Repeat three times and then stay extended straight. Sit up tall and take three deep breaths here! If you want to increase the stretch, flex your foot. Release and repeat on the other leg.
- Shoulder and Upper Arm Stretch – This is great for tight shoulders and upper back! Lift one arm overhead and bend that elbow so your hand is behind you touching your upper back. With your free hand, hold your elbow tip and gently pull your elbow toward the center of your head. Now here’s the good part. Gently lean your head back into the support of your cradled arm. Ahhh!!! Feel the stretch and take three deep breaths! Release and repeat on the opposite side.
- Core Strengthener – A strong core can keep your lower back healthy and is vital for injury prevention. From a sitting position, rest your hips and hands on the bench as you float both feet up to the water surface level (you will be balanced on your tailbone). Extend both legs straight so that your body forms a “V” shape. Now bend both knees in toward your chest and then extend them back out straight, working your core. Keep your jaw and face relaxed and repeat ten times.