Activity and rest, wellness lies in the balance between those two. 

In contemporary culture, life seems more sedentary, sitting at our desks or in transport for extended periods. That can be challenging for our bodies and will often leave us more prone to injuries. 

Something as simple as warmth can aid us back to wellness and help us recover. But first, what is thermotherapy?

Thermotherapy stands for the use of heat for pain relief and health. It can take the form of a hot cloth, hot water bottle, heating pad, hydro-collator packs, whirlpool baths, saunas, and others.

Heat therapy is a common component of the rehabilitation process. It can benefit people affected by arthritis, soothe stiff muscles, and aid injuries to the deeper skin tissue. 

Woman in outdoor jacuzzi 

Below are the top 5 benefits of heat therapy


Reduces pain 

Heat therapy speeds up healing and recovery. Applying a heat compress or a heat pack calms painful muscle spasms. It also reduces pain induced by tension and stiffness in the muscles. Heat can also make physiotherapy exercises more tolerable by interrupting the transmission of pain signals in the brain.


Increases blood flow

Sitting for hours long affects the blood flow to our lower body. Compromised blood flow can lead to aches and tension in our lower back, buttocks, and thighs. A hot pack under our seat for 10-20 minutes can relieve the discomfort. 

One 1991 study published in the Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy, “The Effect of Therapeutic Modalities on Blood Flow in the Human Calf,” revealed that a hot pack caused a “significant” increase in blood flow during application. It relaxes the knotted veins, which makes the blood circulate more optimally, thus reducing inflammation and pain. Good blood flow flushes toxins and other debris from the injury in your system. 


Improves sleep

Believe it or not, thermotherapy can help us sleep better. A hot bath or a sauna session will make anyone sleep like a baby after. A 1985 study published in the journal Electroencephalography and Clinical Neurophysiology, “Night-time sleep EEG changes following body heating in a warm bath.” supports this theory. The study investigated how hot and cold baths affected our sleep patterns. While cold baths did not show any prominent effect on our sleep, warm ones produced a significant increase in:

+ Feeling sleepy at bedtime

+ Stage III sleep or also known as p sleep. During this stage in our sleep, our brain produces low-frequency delta waves; associated with physical healing and growth, immune system regeneration, and energy restoration.

+ Stage IV sleep, otherwise known as REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. REM sleep plays a significant role in our overall well-being because of its link to formating new memories, learning, and mood improvement.


Reduces the effects of asthma and allergies

Warm, moist steam from a hot tub can relieve congestion and irritation, common symptoms in people suffering from asthma and allergies.

Providing moisture to the airways thins the mucus and helps it drain from the nose and sinuses. So next time your airways feel tight, congested, or dry, try warm steam inhalation, take a hot bath, or go to a sauna.


Improve mental well-being

The benefits of heat therapy overpass the physical body. Scientists explore how taking a hot bath or doing a sauna protocol can compare to getting a warm hug and, as such, improve mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, and stress.

One study found that a single session of whole-body hyperthermia reduced depressive symptoms (as measured by the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale) for six weeks afterward. Another randomized, two-arm, placebo-controlled pilot trial showed that taking a hot bath (40 °C) twice a week for four weeks significantly reduced Hamilton Depression Rating Scale scores compared to a placebo group. A smaller study from Japan has shown how Waon therapy(a mild sauna protocol) may benefit people with chronic fatigue syndrome.

 IR sauna

As we have outlined the benefits of thermotherapy and what it is, the fall season seems the perfect time to start incorporating this practice into your wellness routine. Whether you choose the comfort of your home with a hot tub, a foot bath, or you go to the spa, there is no doubt that your body and mind will enjoy it. And we know the perfect place when you want to treat yourself to something special. GAIA is Oslo’s first all-in-one health studio specializing in infrared saunas in beautiful private rooms with your in-room shower.