Everyone knows the benefits of a refreshing swim on a hot day and how water can soothe your body and calm your muscles. However, did you know that it can also boost your physical therapy program?
Aquatic therapy has many benefits as part of a comprehensive rehabilitation plan. By fusing the inherent qualities of water with physical activity, you can get a successful workout and physical treatment solution.
WHAT IS AQUATIC THERAPY?
Aquatic therapy is simply physical therapy carried out in a pool. It offers a setting that enables patients to accomplish motions that may be impossible on land owing to discomfort, weakness, or inability to bear weight. Now that you can do these things in the water, they’re more accessible and pleasurable.
Aquatic therapy is frequently recommended for:
- Pain control, such as for back pain
- Orthopedic injuries/trauma
- Arthritis and fibromyalgia
- Post-operative recovery (e.g. joint replacement) in patients with restrictions for weight bearing
- Problems with movement or walking, as well as balance and coordination
- Muscular disorders for motor learning; muscle weakness
- Reduced tolerance for weight bearing
This list goes on as many additional people, including those who had insufficient success with conventional land-based physical treatment programs, have also benefited from aquatic therapy. In addition, it is not necessary to be able to swim to receive aquatic physical therapy. Most exercises can be done standing up, grasping a railing, or using a flotation device. Your physical therapist can help you with the right exercises as your comfort and confidence in the water increase.
Here are a few ways that water therapy can benefit you:
1). IT RELIEVES PAIN AND MUSCLE SPASMS
The buoyancy of the water reduces the force of gravity on our bodies, enabling you to move more freely and comfortably while experiencing less pain, and protecting your joints by reducing the strain of bearing weight. The weight pulling down on your body is 90% less when you are submerged in water up to your neck. The pressure drops by 50% when the water is waist-deep. After surgery, while your body is still healing and you need to be cautious about how much weight you put on the surgical site, this can be extremely useful.
2). IT MAINTAINS OR INCREASES MOBILITY, FLEXIBILITY, AND RANGE OF MOTION
Exercise in warm water helps to relax muscles and enhance circulation, reducing guarding and spasms in the muscles. To facilitate this, the pool should be continuously maintained at least 92 degrees, which is ideal for most patients. Additionally, because of its relative density, water aids in lifting limbs or joints that are particularly uncomfortable or inflamed, improving mobility while reducing pain.
3). IT DEVELOPS MUSCLE STRENGTH AND IMPROVES MUSCULAR POWER AND ENDURANCE
The viscosity of the water and the drag forces produced as we move through it allow us to build stronger muscles and increase our capacity for action to carry out daily tasks. Additionally, water exercise helps enhance breathing and aerobic capacity for excellent health. Aqua gloves, paddles, and noodles can also be used for added weights.
4). IT ENHANCES BALANCE AND COORDINATION
Our bodies constantly adjust to the pressure and movement of the water around us while submerged. Our muscle strength, sensory awareness, and reaction time all increase, which helps with balance and movement coordination. The sensation of security and relaxation that the water around us gives us can also reduce our fear of falling. Exercises that would be difficult on land might now be feasible in the water.
5). IT IMPROVE WALKING ABILITY
The water can be a terrific place to promote mobility safely and effectively for someone who cannot fully bear weight on land, finds it too painful, or is afraid of falling. The hydrostatic pressure reduces weight-bearing forces, which can help reduce pain. Because of this, your physical therapists can effectively address your gait pattern much more quickly than you would be able to on land. In addition, they can provide direction and feedback to promote appropriate walking forms. Additionally, railings are available for anyone who struggles with balance to grip onto while walking, keeping them safe.
6). IT SPEEDS UP THE HEALING PROCESS AND RECOVERY TIME
While you are submerged, water continuously exerts a pushing force against you. This is the hydrostatic pressure, which dramatically facilitates better circulation and reduces swelling to speed up healing. It can help enhance the range of motion, lessen joint tenderness, and speed up healing. Additionally, exercising in water offers a setting that enables you to work on strength, range of motion, and gait while decreasing or eliminating body weight forces sooner than you may be able to do on dry land if you are recovering from an injury that prevents you from fully weight bearing on a joint.
LIMITATIONS OF AQUATIC THERAPY
Although aquatic therapy can be beneficial, it might have certain drawbacks. First, the improvements you experience while working out in the water might not translate into functional improvements on the land. For example, due to the buoyancy created, walking in water may be simple, but walking on the dry ground may be more challenging once you leave the pool.
Aquatic therapy may also just feel good, but the anticipated functional and strength benefits may not materialize due to pool therapy. Therefore, when you engage in water treatment, you should know the precise objectives you hope to accomplish.
Also, it’s crucial to understand that not everyone benefits from aquatic treatment. Participation in water treatment is not recommended for those who have cardiac problems. A person with a fever, an infection, or bladder or bowel incontinence is also ineligible for aquatic therapy. Before commencing an aquatic therapy program, always discuss this with your doctor or physical therapist.
To properly recover from an illness or injury that limits your functional mobility, you may benefit from the specialized services of a physical therapist. Suppose you want to regain your baseline mobility and resume your normal activity level; aquatic therapy may be able to help.