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What Is a Hip Bath?

Mary McMahon
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A hip bath is a specially designed type of bath tub which is intended to submerge the buttocks and hips of the bather, who bathes sitting upright, as though in a chair. These baths have been used for centuries in Ayurvedic tradition, and they were also immensely popular in the Victorian era, when many Europeans flocked to institutions offering hydrotherapy. Some members of the medical establishment continue to use hip baths in patient treatment.

Some people also use the term “hip bath” to describe a deeper bathtub, in which more of the body is immersed, but the bather still sits rather than lies in the tub. This sort of hip bath was also very popular among the Victorians, especially those without running water, as it was small enough to fill with water from jugs. Some modern bathers also enjoy this sort of hip bath, since it is quite comfortable to lounge in for extended periods of time.

In the sense of a therapeutic bath, a hip bath is supposed to promote healthy circulation and stimulate the digestive tract. Patients may bathe in warm, tepid, or cool water, and various substances may be added to the water as well. In some cases, the bath also involves a vigorous rub down with a coarse cloth, which helps to slough off dead skin while also encouraging surface circulation.

Taking hip baths for healing might seem a bit odd, but it does have some very distinct health benefits. Women who suffer from cramping, for example, may find that taking a hip bath helps to relieve the pain. A hip bath can also be used to treat hemorrhoids and other painful inflammations and infections in the lower regions of the body.

A related concept is the sitz bath, which covers the buttocks specifically. Sitz baths are used to treat various inflammatory conditions such as fistulas, and also to ease the pain from surgical procedures in that area of the body. They can also ease recovery from giving birth, when women often experience pain and soreness. Typically a sitz bath is taken with warm water, and the bather soaks for 20-30 minutes.

Hip Bath Benefits

There are many benefits associated with hip baths, including improved circulatory and digestive function as well as the soothing effect it often has on the bather’s skin and muscles. When the water in a hip bath is hot or warm, it can kill bacteria located throughout the lower body, making it ideal for the treatment of skin infections. This also serves to improve your immunity while alleviating symptoms associated with illnesses such as the flu.

When the water in a hip bath is cold or tepid, however, there are many other benefits that you can take advantage of. A cold hip bath can help ease muscles that are aching, and it can alleviate pressure on your body’s central nervous system, too. It may also reduce inflammatory responses and benefit your vagus nerve.

All of these benefits ultimately improve the body’s strength while providing comfort to the bather. Due to the positioning of a hip bath, it’s also beneficial for any ailments affecting the lower extremities, genitals, or abdomen.

Conditions to Treat with a Hip Bath

There are many specific conditions that can be treated by a hip bath. One of the most commonly targeted ailments is the alleviation of piles and hemorrhoids that can cause significant discomfort. Because of the bather’s upright position in the bath, a hip bath is ideal for providing comfort and minimizing the symptoms of these conditions.

It can also be used to address the symptoms associated with painful menstruation. For men who are experiencing cramps and other physical discomforts, a hip bath can seriously improve their condition and minimize the pain associated with their period.

Muscular conditions are also great for hips baths. Sciatica, for example, can cause pain throughout the hips and buttocks. A hip bath targets this specific area and helps to relax the muscles that often trigger discomfort. Other conditions that cause nerve pain can benefit as well.

When Were Hip Baths Used?

Hip baths have likely been used throughout human history, but they were particularly popular throughout the 1800s and into the early 1900s. During this time, ailments affecting the lower extremities and genitals were particularly prevalent, so hip baths emerged as an effective treatment option to alleviate some of the most common sources of discomfort.

They were also common due to the lack of indoor plumbing that was common in this time. Hip baths can easily be filled by simply transferring water, so many households in this time featured a hip bath as an easy solution to hygienic concerns. Even after indoor plumbing became widespread, though, they remained popular in many homes.

Hip baths are still used in many places in the modern 21st century. In many cases, they are also called “sitz baths,” although the two phrases have slightly different meanings. Still, hip and sitz baths are still a staple of many cultures, and it’s easy to see why. In all likelihood, they will remain a popular option for people seeking relief from aches, pains, and ailments.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a The Health Board researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By burcinc — On Apr 23, 2012

@turquoise-- If you're looking for a bath tub that's going to benefit your hip, you need a hip bath tub, not a sitz bath tub. Sitz baths are tiny and like the article said, your hip won't even get immersed in water with a sitz bath tub.

A sitz bath tub is like 1/3 the size of a hip bath tub. In the past, sitz bath tubs used to be ceramic or steel. These days they're all plastic and even smaller. They even have ones that fit into the toilet now and you put water in it and just sit on the toilet.

For hip joint pain, I do recommend using a hip bath. It's not terrible affordable, but it's an investment and you can use it for years and years. I've had mine for a long time, I bought it from a company that makes bath tubs and other kitchen stuff. I specially ordered mine because I'm pretty tall and wanted to make sure that I fit in it.

And if you want to immerse your hips and knees and stomach, make sure to look for a deeper tub because they come in various sizes.

To buy one, I recommend finding companies that specialize in bath products and then check their website or call them up to find out if they carry hip bath tubs as well.

By bear78 — On Apr 22, 2012
@turquoise-- A hip bath tub looks like a ceramic chair. You sit in it as if you are sitting in a deep chair and your hips and usually a part of your stomach and legs also get immersed in water.

I don't own a hip bath but I've used it a couple of times at naturapathy centers. I think there are ones that also work as a Jacuzzi and you can run water in it. But most of them are made just to sit in it. It's not possible to bathe or shower in it. It's too small for that anyway.

I think hip baths are available for sale online and at some medical stores. It's not as easily found as sitz baths though. Those are a lot smaller and cost a lot less. And it's usually available in large pharmacies and stores.

By turquoise — On Apr 21, 2012

This is interesting. I've never used a hip bath tub before, and I don't think I've ever seen one either. I understand the concept, but I can't really imagine how this bath tub works.

Is it simply to add water and sit in it? Is it possible to bathe or shower in it?

And is a hip bath tub and a sitz bath different in shape?

I would also like to know where these tubs are available for purchase like @anon119969.

I've been suffering from hip tendinitis and my doctor recommended that I do hip baths with salt and ginger in it to relax the muscles and release toxins. I can do it in a regular bath tub, but since I'm supposed to do it daily, it takes a really long time to fill up the bath tub and I feel like I'm wasting water. If hip bath tubs are affordable, it would be nice to have one at home for situations like this.

By anon129767 — On Nov 25, 2010

is it helpful in losing weight?

By anon119969 — On Oct 19, 2010

where can I buy a hip bath in the United States? Please post on this page.

By anon72680 — On Mar 24, 2010

More than auyurveda it is used in naturopathy.

By anon27758 — On Mar 05, 2009

hip bath is used in nature cure centers since many years it has many therapeutic values if used in right temperature and correct duration.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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