Hydrotherapy is the use of water (including steam and ice) for therapeutic purposes. Saunas, the use of hot or cold compresses, soaking in a bathtub or spa, applying ice to an injury are all are forms of hydrotherapy.
Warm water therapy is frequently used to treat sore muscles, stiff joints, and even stress. Warm water helps relieve the pain and stiffness caused by spinal osteoarthritis and muscle and ligament injuries (do not use heat in the acute stages of an injury - use cold).
Soaking in Warm Water
Soaking in warm bath can ease pain and stiffness caused by osteoarthritis or a soft tissue injury. A warm bath increases circulation, which promotes healing and loosens up tense muscles. Warm water is also very soothing and reduces stress. Stress hormones increase one's perception of pain and cause tightening of muscles. Warm water alone is soothing. But some find they can augment the stress-relieving properties of the bath by adding essential oils to the water and/or listening to recorded music or sounds of nature. Soak for 20 to 30 minutes at a time. Wait at least one hour between another soak to avoid overheating.
Warm Water Exercise
Exercising in water has many benefits for those with joint problems. The buoyancy of the water supports most of the body weight, taking stress off the joints. When submerged in neck-level water 90% of the body weight is supported (in chest-deep water 75%). The resistance of the water means the muscles must work harder to perform any movement, allowing one to increase the workload of the muscles without stressing the joints.
Warm water exercises are especially beneficial for those with back pain and/or stiffness, whether from osteoarthritis or a chronic injury. Warm water loosens up tight muscles and reduces pain, making exercise easier to perform.