Hot Baths and Sore Muscles. Do they mix?

22 Oct

Bathroom - Bathline

One of the best things about owning a beautiful bathroom suite is the ability to take a long hot bath post workout. Soothing those sore muscles in warm water is the ideal reward. However, is it the best way to aid muscle recovery? 

Running hot or cold?

Keen athletes and runners will know that an ice bath is often recommended for recovery after a high intensity workout. It’s believed that this is due to the small ‘tears’ which occur in muscles when you exercise them hard. Ice baths or cold water immersion halt the inflammation resulting from these micro-tears, reducing pain and seemingly aiding muscle recovery time. 

However, these muscle tears aren’t muscle damage; they are actually part of your muscles’ repair and regeneration process. Running an ice cold bath in your lovely new bathroom suite isn’t necessary unless an especially quick recovery time is needed.

A hot bath immediately after exercise isn’t recommended either. It encourages blood flow to your muscles by dilating blood vessels which isn’t the best idea for recovery. If you experience delayed onset muscle soreness (sometimes shortened to the ‘DOMS’) in the days after your workout, try a warm to hot bath to soothe the aches. 

Are baths relaxing?

Many people cite muscle relaxation as the reason for disappearing into bathroom suites for hours on end. With candles on every surface of the bathroom furniture, soft music playing and the smell of your favourite essential oils wafting around, there’s no doubt that taking a bath is a psychologically calming thing to do.

However, the hotter your bath, the more your nervous system is actually fired up. Although your body has natural cooling systems – namely, via blood vessels in extremities such as your head, hands and feet – a warm bath can raise your core body temperature, and increase circulation or blood flow, along with your blood pressure. 

What about muscle relaxation? 

When you fill up that beautiful bath in your bathroom suite and get in, there is some buoyancy. This means that the water takes some of your weight, so your muscles are doing slightly less work to hold you in place, which you can experience as slight muscle relaxation. 

Over time, the heat of the water will have a warming effect on your muscles and make them a little more pliable, so a gentle stretch in the bath could be mildly therapeutic, or even while leaning (carefully!) on the bathroom furniture for support.

Do Epsom salts work?

A study published in 2009 showed there was no evidence that magnesium – the active ingredient in Epsom salts can penetrate the skin. There are also other studies showing that it can. However, even if it is able to ‘soak’ into the skin while you’re having a luxurious soak in your bathroom suite, there’s no proof that it can reach or soothe aching muscles.

It may leave your skin feeling good and certainly adds to the sense of luxurious self care. So enjoy your bath salts, pop another candle onto the bathroom furniture and pop a face mask on. You’ve earned this!