Wondering what the differences are between a hydrotherapy pool vs hot tub?

Aquatic therapy, also known as hydrotherapy, has long been established as a treatment for plenty of different injuries and conditions.

For many people living with ongoing pain and discomfort, hydrotherapy is an excellent way to rebuild muscle length and strength, maintain fitness without undue stress on the body and enjoy relaxation.

Because water therapy is so effective, installing facilities at home has become more readily available in recent years. And that brings us to the question you’re here for…

Hydrotherapy pool vs hot tub – which is suitable for you?

How Hydrotherapy Helps

Hydrotherapy involves individuals being led through exercises in a warm pool. 

Therapy pools are much warmer than your average swimming pool, with the temperature sitting somewhere around 33-36ºC, and it’s the combination of warm water surrounding your body and the exercises that get brilliant results. Most pools feature massage jets and mobility aids to improve the experience and element of safety for users.

The warmth of the water in a hydrotherapy pool helps muscles relax and reduces joint pain, and the water supports your weight providing pain relief and an improved range of joint movement. 

Because of this, hydrotherapy can be beneficial for pain, stiffness, muscle pain, bruising and swelling. It can therefore be used to offer symptomatic relief to people with…

  • Cerebral palsy
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Osteoarthritis

Aa well as many other conditions.

The Problem With Public Facilities 

Covid-19 forced public hydrotherapy pools to close, and most never re-opened. This was mainly due to staff shortages and a strong focus on ‘urgent-care’ services, but many dedicated hydrotherapy rooms were repurposed over time.

Unfortunately, not only has access to public hydrotherapy diminished, hydrotherapy referrals have skyrocketed. And that means long, long waiting lists.

The answer? Hydrotherapy at home. 

Many people are taking charge of their water therapy and opting to install pools at home. But when it comes to hydrotherapy pool vs hot tub, what’s your best bet?


The Hot Tub

Hot tubs, sometimes called Jacuzzis – although this is a brand name that we now use interchangeably – are above-ground, small pools that tend to be installed outside on decking or patios or inside in a dedicated space. 

The primary function of a hot tub is relaxation. They are not designed for medical use, but for recreation, and are popular in many homes around the UK and beyond. 

There are different types of hot tubs. From cheaper inflatable products that can be stored when not in use to hard-shell permanent structures, hot tubs are a decadence many enjoy and come with plenty of features to enhance the experience:

  • Seats. From couples-only hot tubs with 2 seats to larger 8+ designs suitable for large families. 
  • LED lights for extra special nighttime dips.
  • Jets to offer muscle relaxation.
  • Adjustable water heating to find the sweet spot. 

The Hydrotherapy Pool

Hydrotherapy pools are designed purely for aquatic therapy and nothing else. They are warm water pools with just enough length and depth to give users space to carry out exercises, and therapists to assist. 

Unlike standard swimming pools, hydrotherapy pools are much warmer but also shallower. Their size allows for more control over the temperature, water pressure and movement of the water through the jets depending on the needs and goals of the user. 

Hydrotherapy Pool vs Hot Tub: The Key Differences

Whilst you can relax and enjoy your time in a hydrotherapy pool, you cannot carry out hydrotherapy in a hot tub. Here are the main differences between a hydrotherapy pool vs hot tub. 


Hot tubs, for many people, are the epitome of relaxation. It’s what they’ve been designed to do. 

Hydrotherapy pools, on the other hand, work wonders for rehabilitation.

Health Benefits

Hot tubs may come with some health benefits, but these are byproducts of the overarching relaxation that comes with sitting in bubbles and jets after a stressful day. 

In contrast, hydrotherapy pools can be adjusted to suit the specific needs of the client or patient and their goals. If muscle strengthening is on the cards, water pressure can be increased to offer higher resistance to the individual during their exercises. This presents the body with a safe and comfortable way of improving muscle strength.


Size is the crucial difference between a hydrotherapy pool vs hot tub. Hydrotherapy treats injuries and increases mobility through movement in water and you simply can’t do that in a typical hot tub. A hydrotherapy pool requires at least 3x2m² per person.

Though hydrotherapy pools have steps to enable safe descent into the water, they don’t typically have seats, unlike hot tubs, where seats are a key feature.

Both hot tubs and hydrotherapy pools feature jets and other water pressure functions, but there is a huge difference between therapeutic use and use for physiotherapy. 


Hot tubs require a hard-standing area but are self-contained, with hard-shell types only requiring access from one or two sides for routine maintenance. 

Hydrotherapy pools need specialist installation by professional contractors. They can be sunk into the ground, set above the ground and equipped with non-slip steps, or sunk halfway. The type of installation you choose will depend on the needs of the individual using the pool, as the range of movement required for climbing steps and safely entering the pool can be too stretching for some and a trip hazard for others. 


With more and more people introducing hot tubs to their homes, the range on the market is now vast. A basic, inflatable hot tub can set you back under £200, but more permanent structures range from £3k to around £25k.

Hydrotherapy pools, carefully designed to offer maximum rehabilitation and physiotherapy for people in need, start from approximately £12k; size and installation preferences play a big part in the cost. 

Hydrotherapy Pool Vs Hot Tub – Which Works Best? 

When you look at the details, hydrotherapy pool vs hot tub isn’t a fair comparison because they serve different purposes.

Hot tubs are great for unwinding and relaxing; they even have minor health benefits, like muscle relaxation. But if you, a client or a loved one require rehabilitation or therapy for a condition or ailment affecting the quality of life, a hydrotherapy pool is the better choice.

Wondering about adapting your home for improved accessibility? Need to make a property safer but don’t know where to start? Everyone deserves the gift of independence, but the world of adaptations can feel overwhelming. 

The John Ford Group specialises in adapting houses to make living at home easier for older people and those with disabilities. Look at our website to find out how we take the stress out.