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Did you know that pools are great for a lot more than just swimming? In fact, aquatic therapy can be a very effective form of treatment for people in need of physical rehabilitation. Two great things about it (besides the fact that it’s an awesome form of therapy): (1) you don’t have to know how to swim and (2) there’s no need to worry about cold water because therapy pools are warm!
What is Aquatic therapy?
Aquatic therapy is essentially a physical therapy treatment which takes place in the water. The pools used range in size from something that may resemble a very large hot tub up to large lap pools. Most pools have varying depths. You may be asked to exercise in water that is approximately chest deep or you may float in deeper water while attended by a trained therapist.
The water temperature in a true aquatic therapy pool is kept warmer than your average swimming pool. Temperatures generally are kept at 91 to 92 degrees. The reason for the higher temperatures is due to the therapeutic effects of warm water. Warm water helps the muscles to relax and is also soothing to sore or painful muscles and joints.
What are the benefits of Aquatic therapy?
Water’s buoyancy is beneficial. The buoyancy of water takes strain off the joints and allows for more comfortable exercise sessions. While in the pool the effects of gravity are decreased. This makes some activities such as walking easier and less painful. It can also make activities such as walking safer because you are surrounded by water which is helping to lift you up. Some patients who have difficulty walking or performing land-based exercise find these activities easier to do while in the water.
While movements in the water may seem easier there is still the chance you may experience soreness later in the day or the next morning. Every movement made is pushing against the resistance of the water. The muscles do have to work harder than when the same movement is performed outside of the pool.
The pressure exerted by the water on the body can also help circulation and decrease swelling. Water pushes against the body from all angles. The deeper the body part is submerged in the water the more pressure is exerted against it. This can aid in gently pushing some of the swelling from swollen arms and legs. Feeling the pressure of the water around the body can also help people with balance deficits to feel safer and more secure while exercising.
How do I know if aquatic therapy is right for me?
Aquatic therapy can be very beneficial, but it is not indicated for every condition. It is best to discuss your situation with your physician or physical therapist. They can help you determine whether aquatic therapy is right for you.