Water can work wonders! For centuries, people have used water exercises to help recover from injury, manage arthritis and improve fitness. Using water exercises in this manner is called hydrotherapy or aquatic physiotherapy.
How does it help?
Hydrotherapy enables you to perform activities that you may be unable to do on dry land. The water provides resistance to your movements and this helps improve your muscles without straining your body. The water supports you, so that you can move without putting your full weight through your joints. Because the water provides buoyancy; you may be able to lift and move an injured body part, that is too weak or damaged to move on dry land.
What types of things can hydrotherapy be useful for?
The following examples illustrate when you might use hydrotherapy
- After injury, to help you regain strength and mobility without overstressing the injury site
- After joint surgery or fractures
- If you can't fully weight-bear on your leg(s) because of injury, weakness or pain
- If you can't lift your arms or legs against gravity
- Recovery after sport or physical activity
- If you have a neurological problem, such as Multiple Sclerosis
- When you want to improve your fitness
Can anyone do hydrotherapy?
Most people can do hydrotherapy. It may involve carrying out exercises in a pool under the direct supervision of a physiotherapist. It can involve having your physiotherapist design a program for you to carry out independently in your own pool, or at a local public facility. You may be able to do some hydrotherapy exercises in the sea. Some hydrotherapy exercise can be done in your bath or spa. There may be limitations on your ability to do hydrotherapy if you are incontinent; if you have an open wound; if you have tinea or some other skin problem; if you require excessive help getting in and out of the water or carrying out your exercises or if you are scared of water.
Ask your physiotherapist
If you would like to look into hydrotherapy, speak to your physiotherapist. If your usual physiotherapist does not conduct hydrotherapy sessions, he/she may be able to refer you to an appropriate facility. It may be that your physiotherapist can design a program for you to carry out at the local pool. Very often hydrotherapy will compliment the usual work your physiotherapist may be doing to help your injured body.