Now that it’s summer time, we’re all hitting the beaches and the swimming pools in an attempt to cool off.
But, not only is water cooling and refreshing, it can also be a great tool in helping with stiffness, pain and rehabilitation!
Hydrotherapy refers to using water as a tool to exercise during your rehabilitation, where the water is approx. 34 Degrees Celsius, making it a very comfortable temperature to hop in!
Water VS Land
Water therapy is low impact, which means that there is less weight and stress going through your joints.
An example of this is if you are standing waist high in water (e.g. doing exercises for your knees or hips), you are only taking approximately 50% of your body weight through your legs.
This is due to the buoyancy of the water; it supports your bodyweight instead of you!
If you find exercising on land difficult and too challenging, using a warm pool is a great alternative.
It allows you to continue to move your joints and muscles through range, while having less weight go through them.
Many people find this less painful (especially in the early stages of rehabilitation) compared to exercising on land (like in a gym or at home).
How Does Water Help With Building Strength?
When moving your body through the water, it provides a low amount of resistance which is how you are able to build muscle strength and tone (even though it might feel quite gentle, those muscles are working hard!)
There are also pieces of equipment you can use to increase resistance and strength (such as pool weights, pool noodles etc).
What Are The Benefits Of Hydrotherapy?
Hydrotherapy is a safe and gentle form of exercise, which is beneficial across the age spectrum, from little ones (paediatric hydrotherapy) all the way to the elderly.
Some of the benefits include;
- Increased range of movement
- Increased flexibility and mobility
- Improved muscle strength
- Reduced pain
- Improved balance and stability
- Reduced stiffness
- Core strength
- Muscle toning
Water therapy can help with a variety of conditions and injuries. Some areas that exercises in the water can help with include (but are not limited to);
- Osteoarthritis (of the back, hips, knees, shoulders)
- Muscle strains
- Muscle tears
- such as total hip replacement, total knee replacement, spinal surgery, reconstruction and arthroscopy
- Lower back pain
- Shoulder pain
- Knee pain
- Hip pain
- Pregnancy (great in taking the weight of your growing tummy!)
Is It Always Safe To Exercise In The Water?
There are some instances where it is not safe to use the pool or water to exercise, such as if your doctor or specialist has recommended you not to due to the risk of infection after surgery.
If this is the case, fear not, there are many other gentle forms of exercise that you can try on land to begin your rehabilitation under the guidance of your physiotherapist.
Thinking that hydrotherapy might be for you? Speak to one of our physiotherapists who can set you up with a program to use in a pool specific to your injury and needs.