Ultimate Guide to Hydrotherapy for Back Pain: Best Exercises

28th October 2022

Back pain, whether temporary or chronic, is a serious problem for people across the UK. It has many potential causes, from illness to injury, and sometimes the reason for back pain is not clear.

Hydrotherapy for back pain has long been used to relieve pain. This guide looks into why hydrotherapy can be beneficial for back pain and some hot tub exercises you can try to relieve back pain at home.

How Many People Suffer from Back Pain?

The figures for back pain are startling. While there is no definitive figure, the number of people suffering from back pain in the UK is significant.

Family enjoying their time in a big hot tub

What Can You Do About Back Pain?

Back pain can be debilitating, and many people turn to various remedies to help them manage the pain. Hot water therapy for backache is one of them.

You will probably want to visit your doctor if you have back pain. They can help diagnose why you are experiencing pain, which may be due to an accident or might be because of a factor like bad posture. Knowing what is wrong is important to create a treatment plan.

You may be given some gentle exercises as part of your treatment plan. For example, your doctor or physiotherapist may recommend doing exercises in water, perhaps in a hot tub, because aqua therapy can often be used for back pain.

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How Does Hydrotherapy for Back Pain Work?

Hydrotherapy involves exercising in water as a form of rehabilitation for various types of pain, including back pain.

It is used to reduce the level of pain, provide relief for aching muscles, increase mobility and build strength.

The water’s buoyancy helps support your body and take the pressure off your back. It also provides resistance to help build strength. As such, you may be able to do weight-bearing exercises in water that you could not do on land.

In addition, warm water has long been used to soothe stiff muscles, loosen joints and provide a relaxing environment. 

Cold water may be useful where the back is inflamed, and there is swelling, especially after an accident. But in general, for stiff and aching backs, warm water is what you want.

Indoor hot tub in front of a fireplace

Hot tubs are often used for hydrotherapy because they are small and convenient, the water temperature is warmer than a swimming pool, and the air jets gently massage stiff muscles.

Hydrotherapy for Back Pain: Common Mistakes

While hydrotherapy can be very beneficial for back pain, one of the biggest mistakes is to overdo it too early.

Because the water supports your body, you may feel like you can do more exercise than you can on land. But it becomes easy to do too much, leading to more pain.

Even if you are finding the exercises easy, take it slowly. Set a time limit, and don’t do too much. Build up slowly over several days and weeks.

Also, make sure the water is at the right temperature. Hot water therapy for back pain has long been used because warm water helps to relax the muscles. On the other hand, if the water is too cold, it can make your body tense up.

Aqua Therapy Exercises for Back Pain

If you have a hot tub or at least access to one, you may want to try out a few exercises to help relieve pain in your back. Remember that your doctor or physiotherapist should be involved in your exercise programme and may recommend different exercises.

But in general, if the pain you are experiencing is not severe and you are not receiving medical attention, you may want to try a few of these hydrotherapy back exercises and see how you get on.

Make sure you spend time before and after simply relaxing for all of these exercises. For example, spend at least a few minutes simply enjoying being in the hot tub, and the hot water and bubbles on their own may help to take the pressure off your back and provide you with some relief.

Gentle Stretching

It’s usually a good idea to start with some gentle stretching before doing hydrotherapy back exercises. Start by raising your arms over your head. Hold your hands together, then stretch to the left. Hold for 30 seconds, and then do the other side.

Shoulder shrugs are also easy. Sit down with your arms at your side, raise your shoulders to your ears and hold for a few seconds. Lower them again as far as you can and hold again, then repeat 10 times.

Man swimming in a hot tub

All stretches depend on your pain level. You may find that some are too much, so don’t stretch if it feels too painful. Take it slowly, and don’t overdo it.


If you are ready to try some exercises, try doing some rotations. Kneel on the floor, keeping your back straight, and place your hands on your hips. Then just tighten your abs and rotate side to side. You can also do this standing.

Leg Extensions

Sit in the corner, holding the edge of the seat and extend your legs in front. Spread them out wide and bring them back together. Do about 10 in a set and aim for two sets.

Knee Raise

Sit in the hot tub with your hands on the seat for support. Let your feet float up, raise your legs into a V shape and bring your knees into your chest. Repeat 10 times.

Stand on One Leg

Stand in your hot tub, lift your left foot and place it onto your right inner thigh. Hold your balance for 10 seconds, and then repeat on the other side.


Try some simple walking in your hot tub. If you have enough space, walk from one side to the other. This can be especially good if you find walking on land too painful. Go slowly and increase your speed when you are ready. You can also do the same exercise but walk sideways.

Home swim spa with a view


Stand up straight and step forwards with one leg in a lunge. Bend the knee, but not too far, then return to the original position. Repeat on the other side and aim for five lunges on each side.

Floating Knee Lift

If your hot tub is deep enough, hold onto a floater, lift your knees up into your body, and lower them. Repeat 10 times.

Find Relief for Back Pain with Hydrotherapy Back Exercises

Hydrotherapy for back pain can be very effective. If you are experiencing back pain, you may want to try using a hot tub and trying out some of these aqua therapy exercises for back pain to see if you can find some relief. 

Ask your doctor about incorporating some of the exercises above into your routine and get their expert feedback.

Even if you don’t do any exercises, simply being in a hot tub can help to provide relief. Warm water and massaging jets can help to relax your muscles, and buoyancy takes the pressure off your back, so you may simply want to enjoy a regular session even without exercising.

We have a lot of premium hot tubs at Hydropool Surrey, including our range of Serenity Hot Tubs. These have been designed with assistance from physiotherapists and osteopaths, and they come with a wide range of hydrotherapy options. 

Find out more by booking a showroom appointment today.