Are hot tubs good for arthritis?

(Image credit: Getty)

Hot tubs are becoming more and more popular as we look for ways to make the most of being at home and relaxing in our gardens. But do these outdoor spas have any real health benefits, and are hot tubs good for arthritis? 

It’s not just the best hot tubs that are soaring in popularity either, inflatable hot tubs offer a cheaper alternative and some still have jets in them too. Swim spas also offer space for exercise and are more affordable than installing a huge swimming pool.

Many will think of hot tubs as a great way to soak the day away and to fit in some much-needed relaxation, but with some hot tub manufacturers claiming these home spas can have health benefits too, we asked a professional for their take on the wellness benefits of using a hot tub. 

Here, we speak to Jenn Holeman, senior physiotherapist for the NHS in the UK, about whether hot tubs have any real benefit to those who suffer from joint issues and what exercises you could use a hot tub for. 

In this feature, we ask how and if hot tubs can help alleviate joint pain, what those suffering from arthritis can do to get help, and whether you can use a hot tub for hydrotherapy. 

It’s important to remember, though, if you or someone you know is suffering from joint pain or arthritis, it’s always best to speak to a medical professional and seek the support you need.

Are hot tubs good for arthritis and joint pain? 

Jenn explains: “In essence, yes. The warmth and buoyancy of the water can help you cope with the pain and stiffness caused by different types of arthritis. 

“Additionally, being in water supports your weight, which helps relieve pain and increase movement. Being in water or a hot tub can also provide resistance when moving your joints, which helps to improve your muscle strength and can help with relaxation and improving circulation.”

Being in water or a hot tub can also provide resistance when moving your joints, which helps to improve your muscle strength and can help with relaxation and improving circulation.

Jenn Holeman, senior physiotherapist

Are there any exercises people with joint pain can do in a hot tub or small spa? 

“Arthritis symptoms can vary significantly from person to person, so it is important to find the right level for you. This level is also known as your baseline. It is important to avoid flaring up your pain, not just because of the potential damage that could cause, but to ensure you continue to progress rather than have to regress. 

“Starting with exercise in the water can help you progress as water provides warmth and buoyancy, which can facilitate exercising your joints without increasing your joint pain and stiffness. Exercises can include marching on the spot, kicking your legs, straight leg raises, and water aerobics.”

(Image credit: Endless Pools)

Is there a difference between using a hot tub and hydrotherapy?

“Yes, hydrotherapy is a specialist form of physiotherapy involving specific exercises that you do in a warm water pool (91.4 - 96.8 degrees Fahrenheit) guided by a trained physiotherapist. These warm water pools are typically hotter than your average swimming pool. The exercise and the warmth of the water can make you feel tired after treatment, so it is good to start with a smaller amount of time and progress to lengthier sessions when you’re ready for them.”

If someone is or thinks they might be suffering with arthritis, what should they do? 

“There is an abundance of resources online, but it is difficult to know whether they are reliable. If you are struggling with joint pain and think it could be arthritis, you should see a medical professional to confirm this, as there are many different types of arthritis. 

“The most common form of arthritis is Osteoarthritis, resulting in joint pain and stiffness, and the severity of symptoms can vary greatly from one person to the next. Osteoarthritis for most people can be self-managed through pacing activity, a gradual increase in exercise, goals, diet and healthy eating, analgesia, relaxation, and stress management.”

Sophie Bird

Sophie is Home Editor at Top Ten Reviews. Starting off her career in print journalism, Sophie then moved to digital and now specializes in lifestyle, home interiors and social media. While she has scooped awards for her journalism, Sophie likes to whip up a storm in the kitchen when she's not writing.