Hot Tubs For Athletes with Olympian Matt Richards MBE

Up & Coming British athlete and Olympic Champion Matt Richards MBE has recently introduced a Lay-Z-Spa into his recovery.

It’s a great tool for your physical recovery in terms of relaxing your muscles. It’s also a fantastic tool for your mental recovery.”

Matt Richards MBE is a British swimmer who swam the third leg of the gold-medal winning Great Britain 4 x 200 metre freestyle relay at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic games, the first British team to win the event since 1908 and the third fastest time in history – only 0.03 seconds from the world record. He was also the Lead Leg of Men’s in the 4x100m Freestyle Relay. Not bad for someone who was just 18 years old at the time.

He has since gone on to make history with freestyle triple, and won Silver at the Japan World Aquatics Championships 2023. Matt is also a 2 x European champion, 4 x British Record Holder, Bronze medalist at Budapest 2022 and the first athlete to swim sub-22 50 metres, bus-48 100 metres and sub-1:45 22 metres.

Olympic athlete using a hot tub for recovery
Image by Speedo

Benefits of Hot Tub Recovery For Athletes

Hydrotherapy for recovery after training, exercise or competing is becoming more and more popular and increasingly scientifically recognised as a beneficial tool for recovery. We already know that hot tubs are great for muscle recovery but as Matt points out there are also mental health benefits to athletes using a hot tub.

Matt explains that for a swimmer like him, there is an intense training routine with up to 20 hours a week in the pool, 4 or 5 hours in the gym, 2-3 hours of injury prevention but only a couple hours a week dedicated to training recovery. The recovery tactics range from a sports massage to an easy session in the pool, but now Matt has be able to add in a hot tub for recovery which he can do at home, in his own time. Matt explains that the recovery tactic depends on the end goal. For a physical recovery then it would be a sports massage but, and arguably more importantly, for mental recovery after a long training day, he comes home to chill in his Lay-Z-Spa.

Is a Hot Tub Better Than An Ice Bath?

"From my understanding of how hot tubs and ice baths can work for recovery, I’ve always understood that Ice Baths are only really useful for a lactate buffer so its very rare that we use those in our training environment because we don’t want to buffer the lactate. We want to use that as fuel to get your body moving again. Whereas, a hot tub or spa can be really useful for allowing the muscles to unwind and relax."

Workout Recovery With A Hot Tub

Learning to Switch Off and Relax With a Hot Tub

"Its very easy as a professional athlete to get wrapped up in constantly training, constantly working and always being switched on. Lean to switch-off at times has been really useful for me. I will always have in the back of my mind “how will decision affect my training or my competing. But I allow myself now to relax and to socialise. The Lay-Z-Spa is a grea example of that. Being able to come home, completely relax, have my girlfriend of friends come round and just jump in the spa and just chill ands chat. That balance has become more and more important the further I’ve got into my career and I’m now really starting to understand how that works."

Find out more about Exercise & Sports Recovery With A Hot Tub and other Health & Wellbeing benefits of hot tubs in our other blog articles.