- Can a hot bath really be as healthy as they say?
- How to tackle pain the relaxing way… while lowering your blood pressure!
- Why you should put a spikey ball in your bath….
I was experiencing what I can only describe as chronic pelvic pain.
So I went to the GP and he sent me for tests…
Primarily we had to eliminate all the culprits for a man over 40, so that was a check for cancer, blood tests, PSA test for prostate cancer….
Once that was done, we worked out that it was probably a chronic reaction to an infection I’d had years before OR it was chronic prostatisis.
Either way, we’d run out of options, as there’s nothing the medical establishment can do in these cases.
In fact, my urologist only recommended the following:
“A hot bath every night.”
After all that…
A HOT BATH.
That was it? That was the best they could do?
But then I went home and looked it up. And what I found was interesting.
In the Scandinavian Journal of Urology it was reported that, in test, heat from a bath genuinely helps ease prostatitis symptoms, while cold aggravates it (Scand J Urol Nephrol. 2007;41(6):516-20).
So this was something regularly prescribed by urologists all over the world.
Of course there are known benefits to a hot bath for other chronic pain sufferers too, as well as those suffering from injury and tired muscles – just ask any sportsperson. Or ask a writer like myself, who now swears by a regular hot bath.
In fact, the poet Sylvia Plath once wrote:
“I am sure there are things that can’t be cured by a good bath but I can’t think of one.”
But here’s the thing…
Did you know that it could also help you burn off the calories and build up your strength?
Well this is the conclusion of Michael Mosley a qualified doctor, science journalist and documentary-maker for the BBC (he’s behind Trust Me, I’m a Doctor).
Get fit by having a bath!
He cites a study from Finland where they showed that regular sauna use can lower the risk of death from cardiovascular disease.
One possible reason for this is that the increased blood flow you get in a hot sauna can reduce blood pressure.
Along with Michael Mosely, a UK-based researcher, Dr Steve Faulkner, tried a similar experiment in this country, but using hot baths – much more the British way!
They found that soaking in a hot bath for an hour burns a lot more energy than they expected – the equivalent of a brisk 30 mile walk, which is a recommended minimum daily exercise ration!
They also found that blood sugar levels are lower when you have a bath after you eat.
Finally, Mosely cited tests that have shown that three weeks’ worth of bathing (or sauna) after exercise actually improves endurance and fitness.
So I don’t need to tell you how to have a bath, do I?
STEP ONE: Go to bathroom
STEP TWO: Turn on the tap
A bit pointless!
However, here are a few tips that might help your bath become more therapeutic. To make it fancier, let’s call it your THERMAL GYMNASIUM (you can tell your friends you’ve had one installed especially).
1. See if you can stay in the bath for 45 minutes to an hour.
2. No need to make it blistering hot – just top it up to keep it warm for the hour.
3. Soak for an hour take a book or magazine in with you to distract your mind and let the body get to work, or listen to a radio play or something to keep you from leaping out in horror at your own thoughts.
4. Avoid doing this later at night if you have trouble sleeping and in particular if you’re an insomniac, as the bath might activate your system.
5. Massage any sore muscles and knots while you’re in the bath. You could try a spikey ball – a kind of knobbly rubber thing which they use in Pilates and physio sessions to loosen up tight muscles. They’re available for cheap on Amazon, for instance this.
And they look like this:
You can lie with it under your back, buttocks and legs, then move around to get the massage effect.
6. Every so often have a good stretch. Pull your feet back towards your body to stretch your calf muscles, then point your toes away. Try bending forward to give your hamstrings a stretch. Whatever you can manage without drowning yourself!
7. To give your body little breaks, tip a glass of cool water over yourself every 10 minutes, wipe your head and neck with a a cold cloth, or give yourself a quick blast with the shower hose.
8. Also keep a cold drink by the bath to keep you hydrated, as you will sweat a lot during the process. This will help you avoid the post-bath headache. Remember the point of this is to feel better, not worse!
Anyway, give it a go. It can’t do you any harm, as long as you’re sensible about the heat levels, drink water and give yourself cooling off breaks.
In the end, it’s a pretty easy way to sort a lot of health problems, from pain to blood pressure.
Talking of which, I’ve got another remedy for you which is just as safe, just as easy, and could switch off a whole load of everyday health problems.
Look out for the details on Saturday!
Until then, stay healthy!