With the arrival of warm weather, the great outdoors may be beckoning to you, with promises of making your workout routine more interesting. If you’ve spent the winter running on a treadmill, however, there will certainly be some adjustment for your body when you attack the trails, with muscle soreness almost guaranteed.
By incorporating a hot tub into your outdoor routine, you can maximize the benefits of hydrotherapy to ease your transition to outdoor cardio. There is often some debate around when the ideal time to soak is (before an outdoor run, shortly afterwards, or with a delay). What you ultimately decide works best for you will come down to personal preference, but there are some general guidelines to observe to stay safe.
Consider these tips when incorporating hot tub soaking into your cardio routine:
Soak Before. A short pre-exercise hot tub soak can make the run more pleasant, especially on a cold day, because it increases blood flow to your legs. Remember that you’ve already started sweating when you soak, and be sure keep hydrated.
Soak Immediately after. This is the time to play it cool. Applying ice or cold water is the best move, as this will limit blood flow to the inflamed muscles so they’ll feel better fast. Heat would keep them inflamed, and continued sweating would keep you dehydrated.
Soak 36-48 Hours Later. You’ll get maximum benefits from the hot tub by soaking 36 to 48 hours after an intense outdoor cardio session (soaking sooner is fine after shorter runs). By then, the inflammation is subsiding and the increased blood flow will stimulate healing for your damaged muscles. Plus, it’s a great reward for your racing success.
Not only can your hot tub serve double duty as your warm up and post-workout relaxation space, but you can bring your workout into the water as well! For anyone with joint pain or sports injuries, combining therapeutic exercises with the soothing heat and buoyancy of the water can reap great rewards.
Back and Leg Lifts
Strengthening your legs and hips can help to improve balance, add support to your back muscles, and decrease the risk of injury during outdoor runs. Stand up in your hot tub, using the walls or lip of the tub for support, and extend your leg outward and to the side. Loosen up your hips by bringing your knees up one at a time, as close to your chest as you can, then lower and extend them behind you. Repeat each exercise in sets of 3, with 10 to 15 repetitions to start, building in number and frequency as you grow stronger.
You can also add an aerobic, cardio-focused component to your hot tub workout with bicycle kicks, alternating this with your more intense outdoor runs. Sit in the hot tub with your legs toward the center, hold the edge of the seat with both hands, and elevate your legs, keeping them in the water. Make a pedaling motion as if you’re riding a bicycle. Pedal for 30 seconds, alternating speeds for a better workout, then take a break and repeat as desired.
Remember: Soak, run, ice, soak later. You’ll be warmed up, you’ll run at your prime, you’ll cool down in the safest way, and you’ll look forward to a blissful recovery in your Beachcomber!