Millions of Americans who are either recovering from an injury or dealing with a chronic illness are being treated with aquatic therapy. Aquatic therapy is similar to traditional physical therapy except that exercises and muscle-building workouts are completed in a pool and not in a gym. Completing such recovery in the confines of a properly heated pool offers several benefits to patients, including:
- Easier and less painful exercise, as there’s reduced force and pressure on weight-bearing joints. Additionally, water helps people release endorphins, which are natural pain killers.
- Patient relaxation, as aquatic therapy is typically completed in warm water pools, thereby soothing aching muscles and increasing patient blood flow.
- Water resistance helps strengthen muscles and work on cardiovascular exercises.
- There’s no warm-up period. That’s because aquatic therapy is completed in warm water, making it a warm water therapy, or WWT. So as soon as patients enter the water, they’re beginning therapy.
Aquatic therapy can be fun and enjoyable when compared to traditional physical therapy, thereby making patients more driven to do it and do it well.
Now that we’ve covered some of the benefits of aquatic therapy, let’s talk about some of the conditions and symptoms that aquatic therapy can be used to treat. Things like arthritis and joint pain, musculoskeletal disorders, back pain, spinal cord injury, strokes, brain injury victims and amputees, just to name a few.
Aquatic Therapy vs. Aquatic Exercise
Contrary to what many people believe, aquatic therapy and aquatic exercise is not the same thing. Aquatic therapy is something that’s typically recommended by your doctor to treat or rehabilitate from one of the aforementioned symptoms or conditions, while aquatic exercise is a class that you can take-typically at your local gym or rec center-to stay physically fit.
Furthermore, aquatic therapy is often done to compliment the more traditional physical therapy. While aquatic therapy is most commonly performed at rehabilitation centers, it can also be performed in backyard hot tubs and pools.
Aquatic Therapy: Not for Everyone
It should also be noted that aquatic therapy isn’t for everyone. For instance, people who are afraid of the water won’t benefit from it-they’ll spend way too much time trying to get accustomed to the water and trying to overcome their fear to the point where it won’t do them any good.
However, just because you can’t swim doesn’t mean that you can’t partake in such a therapy program. Aquatic therapy sessions can be specifically designed by physical therapists for non-swimmers, so even those that haven’t been familiar with water or water sports throughout their life can still reap the benefits of aquatic sessions.
What is Aquatic Exercise?
Aquatic therapy and aquatic exercise are two different things. And while we’ve already covered aquatic therapy above, pools and hot tubs can also help people with preventative care measures with aquatic exercises.
Aquatic exercises are workouts that are typically done the same way as regular on-land workouts. For instance, some popular exercises may involve lifting weights under water, using a kick board to do resistance exercises, water walking with hand webs and more.
Aquatic therapy is a fun, relaxing and unique way to rehabilitate and manage ongoing symptoms, whether they’re caused by injury or ageing. It’s also becoming a much more popular practice that’s being increasingly covered by insurance policies. As always be sure to consult with a doctor or therapist first before engaging in any new physical activity.