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ATHLETIC RECOVERY BENEFITS OF A SWIM SPA

By combining the effects of heat, hydrostatic pressure and hydromassage, a variety of performance and long-term health benefits are available to keep you active, feeling good and performing at your best.

ATHLETIC RECOVERY

If you are an athlete, outdoor enthusiast or generally fitness-minded, injury prevention and athletic recovery are as important as diet and conditioning. Especially if you want to maintain your quality of life long term.

Hydrotherapy, or water therapy, continues to be one of the most accessible and well-proven treatment methods available. By combining the effects of heat, hydrostatic pressure and hydromassage, a variety of performance and long-term health benefits are available to keep you active, feeling good and performing at your best.

The benefits of passive heating

While exercising, the temperature range of a swim spa should be between 80 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit (27‐29C) to prevent hyperthermia. But during passive soaking, the therapeutic range is typically higher — between 95 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit (35‐40C). Skin temperature rises quickly, causing superficial blood vessels to dilate, increasing blood flow to the dermis and underlying fascia. As the body’s core temperature rises the heart rate increases, mimicking the effect of mild exercise. Cardiovascular load is reduced because the heart is able to pump blood more efficiently, resulting in lower blood pressure and a relaxed state of mind. It also contributes toward improved muscle performance.

  • A 2008 study, published by the Journal of Athletic Training, found that immersion in warm water before exercise “reduced most of the indirect markers of exercise-induced muscle damage, including muscle soreness and creatine kinase (CK) activity in the blood.”1 In other words, soaking in a heated swim spa before athletic activity helps to reduce muscle damage during exercise, making it easier to recover afterwards.
  • A 2005 study, published by the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, found similar results in the context of post-workout contrast water immersion (CWI) therapy. Alternating between hot and cold water at specific time intervals after exercise “hastens blood lactate clearance, results in lighter and less tight muscles with a feeling of mental freshness, and improves the subjective perception of recovery.”2 Keep in mind that rapid fluctuations in temperature may increase your blood pressure, so consult a healthcare provider for more information.

In addition, heated-water immersion is thought to activate heat shock proteins (HSPs), a group of polypeptide molecules that protect cells from heat, cold, low blood sugar and other stressors. In addition to protection, HSPs enable cells to become more tolerant to stress.3  Long-term cardiovascular benefits include lower rates of cardiovascular disease and fatal coronary episodes. According to research published in 2015, HSP activity is linked to longer lifespans.4

The benefits of hydrostatic pressure

When the body is submerged, the weight of the surrounding water presses against it, much like wearing a full-body compression suit. This hydrostatic pressure applies equal force to the entire body, keeping blood from pooling in the extremities, reducing pain and edema and thereby increasing range of motion.

  • Rehabilitation medicine expert Dr. Bruce E. Becker, author of Comprehensive Aquatic Therapy, comments: “Hydrostatic pressure assists in the dissipation of edema, in the gradual increase in joint range of motion and in combatting spasticity.”5
  • Hydrostatic pressure gently compresses the thorax, requiring exertion by the inspiratory (inhalation) muscles. According to a 2005 study of older adults, “Elevated fitness level might be accounted for by increased endurance capacity of the inspiratory muscles.”6 In other words, building endurance in these muscles may improve overall lung function.

The benefits of hydromassage

Hydromassage, or water-powered massage, is comparable to traditional massage. However, unlike massage on dry land, hydromassage benefits from the therapeutic influence of passive heating and hydrostatic pressure.

ATV swim spas contain a robust system of pumps and hoses to direct columns of heated water toward the hydromassage seats. These seats target the neck, shoulders, lumbar, hips, legs and feet. Specially-designed jets focus the water and introduce air to create a percussive effect. Some models provide jets with orbital rotation to create a kneading effect. This combination of pressure and motion circulates blood and lymph to evacuate toxins and deliver vital nutrients and healing factors. Hydromassage promotes flexibility by keeping muscles soft and pliable while reducing the feeling of soreness and stiffness. Gentle stretching and range of motion exercises during hydrotherapy help to enhance these results.

The cost of ownership

The benefits of hydrotherapy and hydromassage far outweigh the economic investment. For example, over a five-year period, owning a swim spa is less expensive than paying a masseuse three to four hours per week. Even when you include the cost of electricity and maintenance supplies (like filters and sanitizer). As a division of Marquis Corp., ATV is an industry leader in high-flow, low-pressure hydrotherapy, providing deeper muscle penetration without skin discomfort.

In summary

For the vast majority of people, hydrotherapy is an affordable and effective means of injury prevention and athletic recovery. From blood pressure and circulation benefits, to improved cardiovascular health, to reduced pain and increased range of motion, the use of hydrotherapy is a no-brainer for athletes and active adults. Not to mention a fun way to relax and unwindTo experience the benefits of swim spa ownership, contact your local ATV Dealer to discover which swim spa model is right for you.


References:

1. Albertas Skurvydas, Sigitas Kamandulis, Aleksas Stanislovaitis, Vytautas Streckis, Gediminas Mamkus, and Adomas Drazdauskas (2008) “Leg Immersion in Warm Water, Stretch-Shortening Exercise, and Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage.” Journal of Athletic Training: Nov/Dec 2008, Vol. 43, No. 6, pp. 592-599.

2. R. Hugh Morton (2005) “Contrast Water Immersion Hastens Plasma Lactate Decrease after Intense Anaerobic Exercise.” Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport: Dec 2007, Vol. 10, Issue 6, pp. 467–470.

3. Kevin C. Kregel (2002) “Heat Shock Proteins: Modifying Factors in Physiological Stress Responses and Acquired Thermotolerance.” Journal of Applied Physiology: May 2002, Vol. 92, Issue 5, pp. 2177-2186.

4. Tanjaniina Laukkanen, MSc; Hassan Khan, MD, PhD; Francesco Zaccardi, MD (2014) “Association Between Sauna Bathing and Fatal Cardiovascular and All-Cause Mortality Events.” JAMA Internal Medicine, February 2015, doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.8187.

5. Bruce E. Becker (2009) “Aquatic Therapy: Scientific Foundations and Clinical Rehabilitation Applications.” PM&R Journal of the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation: September 2009, Vol. 1, Issue 9, pp. 859–872.

6. Mark L. Watsford, Aron J. Murphy, Matthew J. Pine (2006) “The Effects of Aging on Respiratory Muscle Function and Performance in Older Adults.” Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport: February 2007, Vol. 10, Issue 1, pp. 36–44.


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