Everything You Need To Know About Aquatic Therapy
Freed from the restraints of weight, from strain, stress, pressure, and impact, our bodies can overcome challenges with pain, mobility, and balance. Aquatic therapy provides an optimal environment for rehabilitation or conditioning; it allows you to begin exercises earlier after an injury, train at an increased level of intensity with decreased stress, and meet your wellness goals without punishing your body. Before you take the plunge, learn more about this effective treatment and training option.
What Is Aquatic Therapy?
With aquatic therapy, exercises and treatments are performed in the water. Simple enough! When you are submerged in water, it creates an upward buoyant force that unloads weight and relieves pressure from the joints and ligaments. You can complete exercises that you couldn’t on land — and, if you are coping with an injury, you can begin rehabbing it much sooner.
Aquatic therapy is an innovative field, but it is not a new one. The concept of using water as a route to healing goes back centuries, with records of ancient Egyptians and Muslims using water for therapeutic purposes. It started gaining steam as a discipline in the early 20th century. In fact, one of the most famous “early adapters” was US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who used aquatic therapy treatments to address lower extremity paralysis caused by Polio.
Today, rather than hot springs and cold pools, aquatherapy integrates advanced tools, including underwater treadmills, resistance jets, massage hoses, precise temperature-controlled water, and underwater cameras for real-time feedback. The basics of aquatic therapy — that buoyant force that relieves weight and stress — are boosted with technology, science, and research to amplify results.
Who Benefits from Aquatic Therapy?
Aquatic therapy provides an environment that is both suitable and safe for just about anyone. This includes:
- People with injuries
- Those suffering from chronic pain
- Stroke survivors
- Pregnant women
- Pre- and post-operative patients
Whether you are working to overcome a challenge or to increase your level of performance, aquatherapy is effective for nearly everyone and every body.
Is It Right for You?
It may be suitable for nearly everyone, but is aquatic therapy right for you? It is if you want and need:
- A safe, controlled environment for rehabilitation
- To strengthen the muscles before a surgical procedure
- To exercise safely after surgery without placing undue stress on your body
- To build strength as a senior or someone with mobility challenges
- A treatment and facility that caters to the unique needs of the veterans’ community
- A treatment plan that is proven effective by science
The Hydrathletics team is happy to discuss your individual needs to determine if aquatic therapy is a good solution for you.
Contraindications and Safety Considerations
Aquatic therapy can yield health-enhancing results, but it is important to determine whether it is suitable for our clients on a case-by-case basis. Some situations in which it can pose a safety risk include:
- High fever
- Open wounds (unless covered with bio-occlusive dressing)
- Uncontrolled seizure disorders
- COPD or other similar respiratory issues
- Currently taking medication that could alter cognition
- Client is currently pregnant and experiencing complications
- Chlorine or bromine allergy
- Serious fear of water
- Hepatitis A
If you are unsure if aquatic therapy is safe and suitable for you, do not hesitate to contact us for a judgment-free consultation.
Pool Therapy Exercises
What can you expect when you suit up and get into the water? Every patient will have a customized treatment plan with exercises that are proven to speed rehabilitation and healing. Some exercises that may be part of your plan include:
- Pool walking exercise. Walking both forward and backward in chest-high water works the leg muscles while exerting no impact of the knees or hips, which is particularly important for people who have arthritis in those joints. The walking exercise can be made more demanding with the addition of hand floats or light weights, so a stroll in the pool becomes an aquatic version of power walking.
- Quadruped activity and exercise. This exercise works legs and arms and is performed while floating on one’s back (sometimes achieved with a therapist supporting the trunk or using a flotation jacket). The individual makes paddling motions with his or her arms and legs.
- Knee-to-chest exercise. This movement is performed while standing on one leg, which is slightly bent, and one leg outstretched in front while one hand holds onto the side of the pool. It strengthens and stretches the muscles in the leg, hip, and lower back.
- Leg raise exercise. This movement is performed with one leg outstretched and the supporting leg slightly bent while one hand holds onto the side of the pool. It strengthens and stretches the muscles in the leg, hip, and lower back.
- Wall-facing leg stretch exercise. In this stretching exercise individuals assume a “Superman” position with hands resting on the side of the pool and the body and legs outstretched into and supported by water. This extends all regions of the back and the joints in the back, as well as stretching shoulder muscles.
Exercises and moves that would be difficult, or even impossible, on land are within reach.
Pool Anatomy and Underwater Treadmills
The first aquatic therapy may have taken place in hot springs and bathhouses, but today, there are many different types of pools that can be used for rehabilitation and training. Hydratheltics uses state-of-the-art HydroWorx® pools, which offer our patients a number of benefits:
- Adjustable floor with variable water depth. The pool floor is completely adjustable, allowing easy, safe access. You just walk or wheel onto the floor, and you’ll be lowered to the right depth.
- Variable speed underwater treadmill. The entire pool floor turns into a cushioned, low-impact treadmill. It ranges from 0 to 8.5 mph in 0.2 mph increments.
- Resistance therapy jets with massage hoses. This is a great feature for those who are undergoing orthopedic therapy, athletic training, and rehabilitation.
- Underwater cameras and monitoring system. We can see what’s going on under the water; with real-time views, we can more accurately diagnose, correct form, and optimize your sessions.
With HydroWorx®, there are no barriers to entry or accessibility, and treatment plans are as customizable and diverse as you need them to be.
Aquatic Therapy Accessories
The pool is the main tool, of course, but there are a variety of accessories that enhance the range of possibilities of aquatherapy, as well as your results:
- Stationary bicycles
- Flotation rings or belts
- Weight-adjustable barbells
- Ankle weights
- Short-tipped fins and flippers
- Resistance bands and tubing
- Resistance hand bells and paddles
You may use a flotation belt for aqua jogging or flotation rings around your neck, arms, pelvis, and legs (the Bad Ragaz Method) for strengthening. You may hop on the treadmill and up the intensity if you’re in training, or you may use resistance bands if you are recovering from an injury. The types of exercises and accessories you need depends on your required rehabilitation, physical limitations, and treatment method.
Book Your Session Now
Hydrathletics combines industry-leading knowledge and cutting edge techniques with customized treatment plans to deliver a therapy experience that is unparalleled in Canada. To learn more about aquatic therapy and to find out how we can help you achieve your goals, contact our team today.