How Does Heat Therapy Work?

Posted by support on Jul 02, 2013

Relaxing in a hot tub to banish stress is one of those experiences we all have in common. We’ve all done it before, and a long, hot bubble bath or a heated massage is even better. You know first-hand how powerful heat can be when it comes to relaxation, but why is a hot shower so much different than a cold one? What is it about heat that relaxes our bodies and soothes our minds? It takes just a moment to turn the knob and warm things up – zero-effort, really – but behind the scenes, heat works on your body in complex ways.

Bathing woman relaxing in bath

On the surface, heat acts like an analgesic. Like ibuprofen (another popular analgesic), it reduces the sensation of pain and fights pain in a different way. When your body experiences higher temperatures in a localized area, natural heat receptors are activated. They act like roadblocks between the site of your soreness and your brain. Basically, the signal priority is on the heat receptor, and this makes it more difficult for you to feel pain.

When heat is applied to the body, it also causes something called vasodilation. Put simply, the veins, arteries and capillaries in your body become slightly wider. This increases blood flow, which means that oxygen and vital nutrients are delivered to the site of the injury more effectively. Carbon dioxide and metabolic waste can be flushed away faster, too. All of this speeds up the healing process, and it greatly reduces pain.

And of course, heat has the power to relax muscles. How does it happen? Heat loosens up the chemical bonds in muscles, which allows them to flex and contract more easily. As muscles become more pliable, the pain associated with tightness and soreness slowly dissipates.

Ready to experience all these benefits for yourself? When you visit Burke Williams, you can choose from several heat-based treatments that promote deep relaxation and renewal. Try one of our signature Spa Baths, or enhance your regular massage with hot stones. Just breathe in, breathe out, and let the heat work its magic.













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