What is Hydrotherapy and what are the benefits?
Hydrotherapy is clinical exercise completed in an aquatic setting, usually delivered by a physiotherapist or exercise physiologist. Hydrotherapy exercise is often prescribed to people with chronic pain or disability to assist in the management of their condition. The properties of water make hydrotherapy a unique type of exercise.
1. Buoyancy: Buoyancy is the upward pressure on the body, acting in opposition to gravity. This is what assists in reducing body weight when submerging into a pool.
2. Hydrostatic Pressure Hydrostatic pressure is the force exerted by water on an immersed object and is proportional to the depth of the water. Hydrostatic pressure assists with improving blood circulation and reducing swelling.
3. Temperature Hydrotherapy pools are usually heated between 31-35 degrees Celsius. Exercise in heated water can assist with increasing joint range of movement and promotes muscular relaxation. On a cellular level, heated water also helps with vasodilation which increases blood circulation around the body and assists with pain relief.
4. Turbulence Turbulence is the movement of the water around you. Turbulent water provides an unstable, yet safe environment that is ideal for practicing balance exercises with minimal risk of injury.
5. Resistance Water is denser than air and provides more resistance during movement, similar to using weights during land-based exercise. The faster a movement, the more resistance, making the exercise more challenging for your muscles.
At Up and Active, our team of Physiotherapists and Exercise Physiologists prescribe hydrotherapy exercise to a range of people including chronic and acute musculoskeletal conditions such as osteoarthritis, post-operative rehabilitation and back pain. Hydrotherapy exercise is safe, yet challenging for those with progressive neurological conditions such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease and Cerebral Palsy. The potential benefits of hydrotherapy include: – improved cardiovascular fitness – improved muscular strength – improved gait and mobility – improved balance – improved joint range of movement and flexibility – improved blood circulation – reduced pain symptoms Like all types of exercise, there are certain conditions that are not suitable for hydrotherapy. It is always best to consult your doctor or treating allied health specialist to discuss whether hydrotherapy exercise is appropriate for you.