Aquatic therapy is a popular complement to traditional land-based therapy like physical therapy. Often, it’s an add-on certification for physical therapists. This type of therapy is also known as hydrotherapy and aquatic rehabilitation. It takes place in a pool or other aquatic environment. Its soothing properties appeal to many who are seeking to heal their bodies or just plain relax from everyday stress.
Goals of Aquatic Therapy
The goals of aquatic therapy include:
- Reducing stress and promoting relaxation
- Improving flexibility and the ability to move
- Building muscle strength and endurance
- Improving coordination and balance
- Assisting with locomotion and gait
- Increasing aerobic capacity for better health
- Enhance the healing process, so rehab time is less
Aquatic therapy is actually a physical medicine that requires the involvement of a trained professional. It often takes place in a group setting. You can find water therapy services at sports medicine clinics, outpatient rehab centers, physical therapy clinics and even in hospitals.
Water therapy has been used for hundreds of years by many cultures. The ancient Romans and Greeks bathed in hot springs for relaxation and to improve circulation. Hippocrates was a great believer in hot springs to heal sickness. Swiss monks were well known to use thermal waters to treat sick people. The Japanese use hot springs to treat skin problems and relieve chronic pain. All around, the magic of water has been well-known for years.
The Many Benefits of Aquatic Therapy
Water’s natural properties set the stage for a very therapeutic environment. Here’s some of its benefits:
- Its natural resistance can be used to increase the rehabilitation process and for muscle strengthening.
- Water has a natural buoyancy for flotation and reduces gravity on aching muscles and joints. There’s just less pain when you exercise in water.
- With its hydrostatic pressure, you’re supported and don’t have to fear falling from performing exercises.
- It provides a soothing and relaxing environment for aching muscles and joints. It also gets you in the zone.
- The respiratory muscles are forced to work more for good health. Breathe better.
- Wave propagation and turbulence allow the physical therapist to gently manipulate your body.
- It can help many conditions, including arthritis, chronic pain, lower back pain, orthopedic injuries, sprains, strains and tendonitis.
Pool Therapy Exercise Program
Aquatic therapy sessions are organized. Typically, the aquatic therapy session starts out with a warm up. You begin with low-resistance exercises to target the lower and upper extremities. It includes brief walking and stretches. After the warm-up, you perform cardiovascular activities like running and sprinting. Strength activities may be performed. For core training, there’s sessions of squats, arm swings and leg swings. To cool down, there’s a massage hose that provides a deep tissue massage-like experience. This prevents lactic acid from building up. Your pool therapy exercise program can also be tailored to meet your unique needs. Whether you have hip pain or knee pain, there’s a program just for you.
Water therapy is really a specialized form of physical therapy. Many physical therapists recognize the positive effect of applying this water modality to its patient treatment program. It improves motion and functionality while allowing the muscles to relax. Even better, you don’t even have to know how to swim to participate in water therapy. So, go ahead and jump in. The water’s fine.
Would you like to know more on how aquatic therapy can help you recover from an injury or medical condition that’s causing you pain? Would you like to know how our physical therapists can integrate water therapy into your treatment plan? Go ahead and give Pinnacle Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine a call today. We’re always happy to answer any questions.