Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

Why baths are good for you

duck-doctors-rt.jpg

A soak in the tub can help cure a multitude of ills. Turn on the taps and let the healing commence.

As Sylvia Plath wrote in The Bell Jar more than 50 years ago, “I’m sure there are things that can’t be cured by a good bath but I can’t think of one.” Despite their allure however, these days 85% of Brits prefer a quick shower over long, relaxing baths. A fact that makes sense – recent studies show that UK women only have 26 minutes of free time a day so slipping into a cocoon of expensively scented bubbles is considered an indulgence limited to those rare mini-breaks spent soaking in a free-standing roll-top. But in all this we’re neglecting one thing: the bath is an untapped medicinal resource.

Tub therapy

Today’s fast-paced lifestyles mean that baths are overlooked, but other cultures have treated bathing as therapy for years. Ancient Greeks built temples around thermal springs while the centuries-old Japanese tradition for bathing in ‘onsen’ volcanic baths, with spring water as hot as 56°c, is still used to relieve metabolic complaints and rheumatism. And Iceland’s Blue lagoons contain mineral-rich silt known to help treat psoriasis.

But you can save on a plane ticket by running a warm bath at home. A soak for 20 minutes in lukewarm water is calming and hydrating while 40°c is the optimum temperature to open pores and expel toxins. Avoid baths hot enough to redden the skin as this causes your heart rate to accelerate.

At its most basic, a bath speeds up circulation, soothes aches and pains and detoxifies the body, even more so when paired with curative ingredients. pouring oats into the foot of a pair of tights and using it as a DIY ‘bath-bomb’ helps calm irritated skin thanks to avenanthramide a compound inside the grain which inhibits the body’s histamine response, reducing itching.

Instead of booking a sports massage to relieve post-run aches, sit in a warm bath. Just 20 minutes will increase lymph flow causing blood to rush to the skin’s surface, drawing inflammation away from the joints and relaxing muscles. Take a tip from elite athletes such as Jessica Ennis-Hill who adds 250g of magnesium flakes to her bath. The blend of magnesium-rich Epsom salts and arnica in liquid yoga, £26, Mio, relieves aches and helps muscles to recover.

For menstrual cramps try a dash of aromatic Foaming Bath, £15, Neal’s yard remedies. it contains the herb marjoram, which has been found to dilate the constricted blood vessels that cause cramps, helping to soothe period pain. And while a soak won’t cure a cough or cold, lacing water with sandalwood and tea-tree – both anti-bacterial – can help to eliminate infections while decongesting eucalyptus helps to clear the respiratory tract.

And relax...

Bathing can also help reduce anxiety and stress. a study conducted by Dr Neil Morris, senior lecturer in experimental psychology at the university of Wolverhampton, found that people who took a daily bath for 14 days had reduced feelings of pessimism, suggesting that it soothes the mind and the body. For the insomniacs among us, a bath can aid a restful night’s sleep according to sleep expert Dr Neil Stanley. “In order to prepare for sleep the body needs to cool down by half a degree,” he explains. This lowers the metabolic rate which stimulates tiredness. The quick drop in body temperature after a bath accelerates this cooling as the body overcompensates by radiating more heat than usual.

Need help to switch your brain off? the relaxing properties of lavender are well-known but Geraldine Howard, president of aromatherapy associates, recommends Vetiver instead, saying, “It’s far more powerful when it comes to calming the mind.” Just add five drops of deep relax Bath & shower oil, £39, aromatherapy associates, to warm water and breathe deeply and calmly allowing your stomach to rise and fall. This yoga-inspired breathing sends a message to the brain to lower the heart rate and help switch off stress responses.

So next time you’re feeling stressed or achy run a bath and reclaim those 26 minutes you usually spend online. Your body will thank you for it.

Related

hero.jpg

Female journalists who changed the world

rexfeatures-3607090ad.jpg

Lupita Nyong'o's moving ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood speech

hero.jpg

Beauty mantras from old-school Hollywood stars

rexfeatures-766667i.jpg

The world of movie make-up

herp.jpg

The 25 most powerful book quotes of all time

beauty-disney-hero.jpg

Best beauty looks in Disney

Comments

More

Armpit tattoo designs are here to inspire you

Pit-ink is here for the long-haul

by Jasmine Andersson
23 Jun 2017

Hair inspiration from the world’s most famous music festivals

Exuberant trends through the ages

19 Jun 2017

Fresh, on-trend festival hair styles we love

Hot new looks to re-create this season

12 Jun 2017

Ten quick and easy hairstyles you can create in 60 seconds or less

Fast beauty on the go

by Sarah Biddlecombe
07 Jun 2017

Hot festival hair trends of summer 2017: a day by day guide

A leading stylist creates his go-to looks

01 Jun 2017

82-year-old grandmother gets first tattoo in memory of late husband

The childhood sweethearts were married for 53 years

by Sarah Biddlecombe
01 Jun 2017

This is the high street moisturiser we’re buying every 18 seconds

People all over the world are positively obsessed

by Kayleigh Dray
01 Jun 2017

People are getting this tattoo in honour of Manchester attack victims

And Ariana Grande has broken her silence on the bombing

by Moya Crockett
30 May 2017

Susan Sarandon’s ageing tips are as excellent as you’d expect

Good lighting is everything

by Moya Crockett
26 May 2017

Queen Elizabeth II has been wearing this nail varnish since 1989

And it only costs £7.99

by Kayleigh Dray
25 May 2017