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Are spa pools good for back pain? | HotSpring Spas

Are spa pools good for back pain?

While back pain is rarely a life-or-death situation, it can make that life very difficult indeed. It is one of the most common and chronic sources of pain in Australians. Australian Bureau of Statistics of National Health estimate about 4.0 million Australians (16% of the population) have back problems. With many of these diagnoses lacking a cure, the focus turns to pain management – and one of the most commonly cited sources of relief comes in the form of a spa pool.

Study after study has found that warm water immersion – or ‘balneotherapy’ as it’s called in the academic world – can indeed form an effective long-term treatment for chronic back pain. And in a spa pool you also enjoy massage from hydrotherapy jets, which has been shown to provide important short-term relief.

How exactly do spa pools help with chronic back pain? And how might a spa pool owner get the greatest relief from their investment? Read on to find out.


Are spa pools good for sore muscles?

At the end of a long and tiring day, there’s no better feeling than sinking into a warm and bubbling spa pool. It’s a universal truth that has been recognised throughout human history, the Greeks, Romans, Babylonians and Māori are just a few civilisations who turned to natural springs or manmade baths for health and wellness. But why?

In more recent years, the effectiveness of warm water immersion and hydromassage has been backed by science.

This 2015 meta-analysis of 25 research trials that focused on the efficacy of massage in relieving back pain concluded that there was strong evidence for massage as an effective short-term treatment. By choosing a Hot Spring, you’ll also enjoy the finest hydromassage on the market - patented jets have been designed to soothe specific muscle groups, and are able to be customised to your desired pressure (and for those who like power, Hot Spring spas are capable of delivering five times more pressure than any other spa brand on the market.) Add in the revolutionary moving Moto-Massage® jet - a spa pool first - and you have the ultimate spa pool for back pain relief.

And while the meta-analysis above stated that there wasn’t enough evidence to suggest meaningful long-term improvement, that’s where the warm water of a spa pool comes in:

  • This 2006 meta-analysis of randomised trials found “there is encouraging evidence suggesting that spa therapy and balneotherapy may be effective for treating patients with low back pain.”
  • This study found that balneotherapy combined with physical therapy improved the quality of life and flexibility of patients with chronic low back pain to a greater degree than physical therapy alone.
  • This 2021 study showed “significant perceived improvement from back pain after utilisation of spa water.”

The results are in: if you suffer from sore back muscles, or indeed any form of chronic back pain, the combination of warm water immersion and therapeutic massage found in a spa pool offers both short-term and long-term relief.

How does hydrotherapy help back pain?

The next question: how exactly does a spa pool help to relieve back pain?

Immersing yourself in warm water solicits a physiological response. When you warm up soft tissues, whether a sore joint or a tired muscle, your body instantly expands blood vessels, which leads to more blood being circulated, and more oxygen and nutrients being delivered to the muscles, joints and other soft tissues that need them. The body can then use these nutrients to mend itself, with the greater blood flow granting freer movement in the meantime.

With freer movement comes the opportunity for exercise, which can offer long-term pain relief while encouraging total body health. A swim spa can offer the ideal form of exercise for back pain sufferers, with hydrotherapy and aquacise offering a low impact yet highly effective form of physical therapy. What’s more, the improved level of fitness that this exercise produces can see you enjoying health and wellness benefits that extend far beyond the relief of back pain.

See our guide to learn more about the benefits of hydrotherapy.

How long should you sit in a hot tub?

Soaking in a spa doesn’t have to be a luxury saved for special occasions. By purchasing your own backyard spa pool or swim spa, you can enjoy a soothing soak as often as you’d like, and according to most relevant studies, the more regular the soak, the better the results.

Richard Stevenson from Napier, New Zealand shares his story rehabilitation journey and the benefits from soaking at home daily in his Hot Spring spa.


While recommendations vary, a daily soak of 10-15 minutes is generally seen as the best way to get all the health and wellness benefits you can from a spa pool, from chronic pain management to mental health and beyond. By choosing a Hot Spring you’ll also enjoy some of the most soothing hydromassage jets on the market, including the Moto-Massage® DX, the world’s first moving spa pool jet that sweeps up and down the back to melt chronic aches, pains and tension away. 

Is swimming good for back pain?

Exercise can be a tricky proposition for chronic back pain sufferers. Restricted in their ability to move, and facing searing pain from the sudden impacts that exercise can so often involve, the temptation can be to avoid working out altogether, but in the long-term this choice tends to only make back pain worse.

There is a solution however: aquacise. Swimming, aqua aerobics and water-based resistance training can offer all the benefits of traditional exercise, like increasing fitness, burning calories, strengthening your heart and building muscles, but without the often joint-crunching impact. It’s great for soft tissues and your cardiovascular system, delivering all the pros of exercise while avoiding the cons.

Swimming and aquacise are particularly good for chronic back pain when enjoyed in an Endless Pools® swim spa. These clever machines offer a swim-in-place experience, allowing you to get into your stroke, swimming for as long as you want without the need to stop or turn around. The warm water of a swim spa warms up muscles and opens up blood vessels, making for an even more comfortable swim. Finally, all Endless Pools swim spas feature hydromassage jets which focus on key areas of the body, further enhancing the overall health and wellness benefits.

If you’re one of the many Kiwis who suffer from chronic back pain, a Hot Spring spa pool or Endless Pools swim spa can offer real relief, backed by science. What’s more, you’ll be able to enjoy all the other perks that come with spa ownership: the solo relaxation, the romantic escapes, the Friday night socialising and even an increase in the value of your property.

Disclaimer: Hot Spring Spas are not medical professionals, and the information above is not intended as a substitute for qualified and personalised medical advice. If you are experiencing health issues in any form, speak to a doctor to obtain a diagnosis and to decide on the most appropriate and effective treatment for your situation.

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