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Surgery Recovery

Hot Tubs and Surgery Recovery

Back in the day, doctors used to prescribe bed rest for patients who were recovering from surgery -- but now we know that the sooner you start moving, the faster your body will heal. But if you’ve ever had surgery, you know it’s sometimes easier said than done. Soreness, pain, stiffness, and stress are common after surgery, and it’s hard to find ways to get back on your feet.

Unless, of course, you have a hot tub.

It’s no secret that hot water has health benefits. People have been using forms of hydrotherapy to relieve stress and pain since the days of Ancient Rome. And today’s hot tubs deliver a unique combination of relaxation and stimulation that make them ideally suited for people recovering from surgery.

Hot Tubs Boost Circulation

Soaking in a hot tub causes your blood vessels to dilate, improving your circulation and blood flow. Improved circulation is good for everyone, but it’s especially good if you’re recovering from surgery. In super-simple terms: When you’re healing, your body is growing new cells, and improved blood flow makes that job easier.

Expert opinion:

Dr. Bruce Becker, director of the National Aquatic & Sports Medicine Institute at Washington State University, says warm-water immersion can simultaneously permit circulation to tissues that are in the process of recovery or that need increased oxygen flow.

Hot Tubs Soothe Sore Muscles

Have you ever noticed that a soak in hot water feels amazing on joints and muscles after a stressful day? A soak in a hot tub can help relax your body, ease tension, and reduce pain, which is especially beneficial if you’re feeling stiff after surgery.

Hot Tubs Can Help with Rehab

People recovering from orthopedic surgeries such as hip and knee replacements and surgeries of the foot, can get the exercise they need for muscle conditioning and strengthening without placing unnecessary stress on their joints. Less joint stress means less pain and greater range of movement. This makes hot tubs a great choice if you’re recovering from a joint-related surgery like knee replacement surgery.

Expert opinion:

Keri Currutt, a certified therapeutic specialist and aqua therapy director at Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital for Rehabilitation says that, “due to the buoyancy of water, aquatic exercise is a great low-weight-bearing activity.”

And remember: Always check with your doctor or surgeon before getting in your spa. No matter what type of surgery you’ve had, your doctor will probably tell you to avoid soaking in a hot bath, pool, or spa for at least two weeks. Remember, your body is still healing, and you’ll want to minimize the amount of time your incision is exposed to water. If you’ve had less-invasive surgery, you’ll probably get the all-clear when the two weeks are up. If you had a major surgery, you might be instructed to wait six weeks before going for a soak.

Hot Tubs and Surgery Recovery FAQs


Q: I just had surgery. How long do I need to wait to get in my hot tub?

A: That depends on type of surgery you had, but most people have to wait between two and six weeks before getting in their hot tub. Ask your doctor or surgeon what he or she recommends.


Q: How long do I need to soak in my hot tub to get the health benefits?

A: You don’t have to spend tons of time in your spa to experience the therapeutic benefits of spa therapy. A 15- to 20-minute soak will help ease muscle tension and improve your circulation, which can help reduce post-surgery pain and stiffness.


Q: What kind of hot tub is good for surgery recovery?

A: Any hot tub will work. Although you can find spas that are purpose-built for hydrotherapy or injury recovery, you can enjoy the tension-easing, pain-relieving benefits of a hot tub no matter which type you choose. Even a budget-friendly inflatable option will help!

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