If you are experiencing pain that limits your ability to exercise or be active, exercising in a pool (aquatic therapy) might be a great way for you to get moving without exacerbating your symptoms. Water has many therapeutic qualities that you just can’t replicate on land. Our physical therapists can help use the pool and the qualities of water to facilitate functional recovery of our patients by changing the environment that they exercise in.
Let’s talk about the science behind aquatic therapy. Exercising in the water has many beneficial effects that you can’t get anywhere else. The water can help increase the blood flow to muscle, give you resistance for strengthening, help decrease swelling, and relax or invigorate you after a workout. The primary benefit of exercising in the water is buoyancy – the water can act to unload your spine and other joints to allow you to exercise without pain. This means that some people who find walking or exercising while standing up unbearable, they may be able to walk or perform light exercise in the pool without difficulty.
Before starting an aquatic exercise program to treat your pain, it is important to be evaluated by a physical therapist. They can tell you what exercises would be most helpful and safe for your condition. If you are lacking motion at a joint or need to build up strength of muscles, you could benefit from aquatic therapy. If you have trouble walking or getting out of a chair, you can practice those activities while buoyed by the force of the water.
There are a few people that should avoid the pool including those who have a fear of water, open wounds, air- or water-borne infections, cardiac or respiratory dysfunction, some neurological disorders, or those with uncontrolled bowel or bladder. Be sure to ask your therapist or primary care physician if aquatic therapy might be a good option to treat your pain. If you have questions about aquatic therapy or wonder if it might be a helpful treatment for you, please call us today!