Hydrotherapy Spa Tubs: History and Principles

Hydrotherapy spa tubs have a long tradition. Historical records support the medical profession’s belief in the therapeutic value of water to relax, support, restore and mend. The Romans understood the effect of water, steam and massage in their public bath houses, and various other forms of Hydrotherapy arose independently in cultures ranging from the Far East to the Americas. Later, a number of European towns established themselves as spa resorts but it was only in 19th century Germany that public spas were first opened in significant numbers.

In the 1960s, a visionary Californian engineer made a significant advance in the field of Hydrotherapy spa tubs when he invented a method of mixing water jets with air. The combination gave the resulting jets both force and direction, thereby replicating many of the effects of traditional manual massage. What differentiated this system from other, earlier approaches was that it gave users the ability to direct the jets, at any given temperature, upon the soft tissues and muscles that most benefit from massage. All the while, the bather could remain relaxed and comfortably reclined.

Thus began the spa tub, now produced worldwide in its millions: for relaxation, for recuperation, for improved mobility and, of course, for simple bathing pleasure.

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Principles: Why Hydrotherapy Spa Tubs Work

A hot bath can be both relaxing and enjoyable but the effect is considerably improved by the use of Hydrotherapy jets. These break up the ‘film’ of relatively still water that hugs the bather’s body. The force of the jets enables the water’s heat to be transferred more effectively, with consequent benefits to muscle tissues, blood flow and nerves. Tissues are stretched, circulation is stimulated and lymphatic fluids are properly dispersed throughout the body.

However, the full benefits can only be realised if, like a manual-massage, the pressure is accurately and carefully applied to the appropriate points on the body. At Cabuchon, we have been designing luxury Hydrotherapy spa tubs for over a quarter of a century and we were the first to realise the vital importance of precise targeting and pressure control.

We recognised that if each individual jet could be located and precisely directed, this would enable more accurate targeting of specific muscles and soft tissues. In turn, this would improve the system’s effectiveness. Making the jet nozzles directional would also give the bather the added flexibility to move position and adjust the jets accordingly.


Close up of a single hydrotherapy jet in a spa tub.

Easily swivelled, this flush-lying jet will direct the water/air stream precisely where it is needed.

Hydrotherapy: the Pursuit of  Spa Tub Excellence

Over twenty five years, we’ve heard countless customers testify to how effective and physically beneficial our Hydrotherapy spa tubs have been for them. We are grateful for the scores of friends and relatives they have referred to us.

We’ve supplied spa tubs worldwide, in all shapes and sizes: free standing, built-in, circular, rectangular and in a range of contemporary and traditional designs. We have fitted Hydrotherapy systems to most of the baths in the Cabuchon range, and also to many of our bespoke baths – either ‘one-offs’ or exclusive designs produced in small numbers. All but five of our baths can be fitted with bespoke Hydrotherapy systems but of all the models we offer, our deep soaking tubs are invariably our Hydrotherapy customers’ most popular choice.

In the 1990s, we introduced the Western world to the Japanese ofuro-style deep soaking tub – a space-saving bath that represented a major leap forward in bathing pleasure and function. It was a development that heralded a fundamental change in bathing habits; it allowed the bather to ‘soak’ comfortably without the awkwardness of lying down in a conventional bath. It was also considerably easier to enter and exit safely.

Customers quickly found that the deep soaking tub was ideally suited for Hydrotherapy; indeed, that it was almost incomplete without it. Today, the two elements are invariably purchased together.

In comparison to a conventional ‘trough’ shaped bathtub, the deep soaking tub has two natural advantages when it comes to Hydrotherapy. Firstly, its smaller and steeper-sided bowl brings the hydro jets closer to the bather’s body. This improves accuracy and promotes more efficient heat transfer. Moreover, the greater depth of water lends more buoyancy, so the bather is better supported, experiences less weight and therefore feels more relaxed. This significantly enhances the overall effect.

Hydrotherapy complements any bath but deep soaking tubs and hydro-massage were truly destined for one another.

A hydrotherapy system with chromotherapy lights fitted to a Yasahiro; one of Cabuchon's most popular spa tubs.

A Hydrotherapy system turns Cabuchon’s Yasahiro deep soaking tub into a luxury spa tub.

Tailored Hydrotherapy Spa Tubs: No Two Systems Alike

As we continued our pioneering work, it became obvious to us that, for greatest effect, each Hydrotherapy system must be tailored to its user’s needs. We rejected the concept of mass-production and opted instead to produce wholly bespoke systems. Now, every Cabuchon Hydrotherapy spa tub is designed and manufactured to reflect the individual bather’s size, physique, age and lifestyle.

Naturally, we appreciated that such an approach would mean talking directly to clients. Meaningful dialogue is essential for understanding customers’ needs and imparting a clear understanding of all the options and possibilities. This presented no obstacle, of course; all Cabuchon baths are custom built and they are generally the result of exactly the same discussion-based process.

Our firm commitment to bespoke design makes our Hydrotherapy spa tubs unique. No Cabuchon whirlpool bath is ever sold ‘off the shelf’ or from stock. Before we begin production, we always have a personal discussion with the customer so we can work together to determine the final specification.

The results are entirely and demonstrably worthwhile. Systematically and accurately designed, a custom-built Hydrotherapy spa tub can produce lifelong benefits – as our 25+ years of experience have proved. Whether for mental relaxation or stimulation, for recovery from sports injuries or for maintaining mobility in later life, a tailored Hydrotherapy spa tub can be one of every home’s greatest, most enduring and most valuable assets.


Interior of a hydrotherapy bath showing the placement of jets for the back and legs.

The number and the pattern of jets in every Cabuchon Hydrotherapy spa system is tailored to suit each customer.

For more information about customisation, please see Choosing the Best Hydrotherapy system.

Other Advances in Hydrotherapy

Subsequent years have seen the introduction of additional features such as underwater chromotherapy lights and an in-line heater that allows the bath to maintain a set water temperature. These add considerable pleasure and functionality to the spa tub bathing experience.

Today, more than 25 years after launching our first bespoke Hydrotherapy baths, we are the acknowledged leader in the field.

We are proud to have thousands of unsolicited testimonials to the success of what we correctly term not ‘whirlpool baths’ but rather, true Hydrotherapy systems.

For more information, please see Enhancing the Hydrotherapy Experience.