Will A Hot Tub Help A Sprained Ankle?

Imagine stepping off a curb and twisting your ankle badly. You limp home, elevate your foot, and ice the swollen joint, wondering how long it will take your ankle to heal. As a hot tub owner suffering from this unfortunate injury, an intriguing question arises – could your hot tub provide hot tub therapy and healing for your sprained ankle?

While a hot tub can certainly help ankle sprain recovery, caution must be taken. This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know about using your hot tub as an aide in sprained ankle treatment. We’ll discuss when it’s appropriate to use hydrotherapy, safe hot tub exercises and stretches, and expert tips to complement your ankle’s natural healing process.

Seek Medical Attention for Possible Broken Bones

Seek Medical Attention for Possible Broken Bones

The first step with any moderate or major ankle injury is to see a doctor. They can diagnose whether your injury is a simple sprain or something more serious like a hairline fracture.

What’s the difference?

  • Sprains – Stretched or torn ligaments but no broken bones. Ligaments are fibrous connective tissues that link bones together at joints.
  • Fractures – A full or partial break in one of the bones. Much more severe.

Common sprained ankle symptoms include:

  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Stiffness and pain when bearing weight
  • Limited range of motion

If your exam rules out a fracture, your doctor will recommend treatment for a sprain. Let the healing begin.

Use RICE Therapy to Reduce Swelling Initially

Jumping into hot tub therapy too quickly can worsen swelling after an ankle injury. Experts recommend RICE treatment for the first 48 hours after a sprain:

  • Rest – Avoid putting weight on the ankle. Keep it elevated on pillows.
  • Ice – Apply ice packs or frozen vegetables wrapped in a towel for 15-20 minutes every few hours. Reduce swelling and inflammation.
  • Compression – Lightly wrap the ankle in an elastic bandage to prevent swelling. Don’t cut off circulation.
  • Elevation – Keep the foot propped up above heart level as much as possible to reduce fluid buildup.

Allowing the sprain to rest while icing and compressing it will get the healing started before you add in heat therapy.

Effectively Manage Pain and Inflammation

Effectively Manage Pain and Inflammation

A sprained ankle can be quite painful. Follow your doctor’s recommendations for over-the-counter pain medication or prescribed drugs to manage discomfort. Common options include:

  • Acetaminophen – For milder pain relief.
  • NSAIDs – Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like Advil to reduce swelling.
  • Opioids – Stronger narcotic pain pills if injury is severe. Use carefully.

Caution: Don’t overdo activity just because pain medication is masking discomfort. Allow your ankle adequate rest and recovery time to heal ligament tears.

Apply Heat to Increase Circulation and Reduce Pain

Once the initial swelling has subsided after a couple days, applying heat can increase blood flow to stimulate healing. Heat also provides natural pain relief.

Some home heat therapy options include:

  • Heating pad – Apply for 10-15 minutes 1-2x per day. Don’t sleep with on.
  • Warm towel – Soak towel in hot water, wring out, and apply.
  • Warm bath – Don’t submerge ankle, but rest in warm water.
  • Hot tub – Provides soothing hydrotherapy (see next section).

The increased circulation delivers fresh oxygen and nutrients to injuried tissues while flushing out waste products.

How to Use Your Hot Tub to Treat Ankle Sprains

How to Use Your Hot Tub to Treat Ankle Sprains

The warm water and jet currents in a hot tub provide an ideal environment to naturally treat ankle sprains. Benefits include:

  • Buoyancy reduces body weight strain on injury.
  • Massaging water loosens muscles and stimulates blood flow.
  • Stretches and exercises have greater range of motion.
  • Helps restore ankle’s strength and mobility.

Follow these expert tips for hot tub therapy:

  • Wait until swelling fully subsides before soaking injury.
  • Start with short 5-10 sessions to see how ankle responds.
  • Try gentle foot flexes, plantar/dorsiflexion, and ankle rolls.
  • Consider alphabet exercise – write letters with your toe.
  • Rotate between jets to massage ankle from different angles.
  • Keep leg elevated if resting it on edge of hot tub.
  • Stay well-hydrated before and after hot tub use.

Your hot tub can effectively promote healing if used properly after the initial rest period. Consult your doctor with any concerns about aggravating injuries. With their approval, incorporate hot tub therapy into your ankle sprain recovery regimen.

The Benefits of Water Buoyancy on Injured Ankles

The Benefits of Water Buoyancy on Injured Ankles

During your recovery, it becomes crucial to initiate ankle movement gradually to avoid the risk of re-injury. A recommended starting point is engaging in gentle active range of motion (AROM) exercises, known for their positive impact on ankle mobility. 

Studies suggest that these exercises can contribute to reducing swelling, provided one can manage the associated pain. To enhance the effectiveness of these exercises, performing them in water is beneficial. The buoyancy of water offers support to the injured ligament, reducing the stress on the foot during the exercise. 

This supportive environment allows for the reintroduction of safer motions to the injured ankle. The water’s buoyancy exerts a gentle compressing effect on the sprained ankle, further aiding in reducing swelling and limiting excessive ankle movement.


A hot tub can supplement the body’s natural healing process and get you back on your feet after an ankle sprain, if used at the appropriate time. Allow your injury adequate rest with RICE therapy and pain management initially. 

Once swelling has subsided after a couple days, introduce short hot tub sessions to increase blood flow and provide gentle stretches. With your doctor’s approval, hot tub therapy can get you enjoying your spa again and walking normally.


Is it good to soak a sprained ankle in hot water?

Soaking a sprained ankle in hot water is generally not recommended.

Is a hot tub good for swollen ankles?

Soaking swollen ankles in a hot tub may help relieve pain but ice is generally a better first treatment.

Is a hot tub good for a broken ankle?

Soaking a broken ankle in a hot tub is not recommended as it can delay healing and cause further damage.

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