Soaking in warm water is one of the oldest forms of alternative therapy, and there’s good reason why this practice has stood the test of time. Research has shown warm water therapy works wonders for all kinds of musculoskeletal conditions, including fibromyalgia, arthritis and low back pain.
“The research shows our ancestors got it right. It makes you feel better. It makes the joints looser. It reduces pain and it seems to have a somewhat prolonged effect that goes beyond the period of immersion,” says Bruce E. Becker, MD, director of the National Aquatics & Sports Medicine Institute at Washington State University in Spokane. There are many reasons soaking in warm water works. It reduces the force of gravity that’s compressing the joint, offers 360-degree support for sore limbs, can decrease swelling and inflammation and increase circulation.
So, how long should you soak? Dr. Becker says patients he’s studied seem to reach a maximum benefit after about 20 minutes. And make sure you drink water before and afterward to stay well hydrated.