Aquatic therapy is therapy through specific exercises geared to any disfunction your body may have in a pool. The pool offers tremendous benefits over traditional land therapy, including bouyancy, resistance, compression, warmth to your joints at the right temperature and many more. Having the ability to offer therapy in water gives us the ability to defeat gravity, which is our enemy through traditional physical therapy.
Resistance: The pool allows us to work multiple muscle groups at the same time, for example, if you are doing squats on land, you are working your "anti-gravity" muscles. In the water, the resistance is allowing your body to work in both directions, down and up. At the same time, as you walk through the pool, your whole body is being used to push yourself through the water. Another benefit of the pool is the faster you move through the water, the more resistance you will create and vice versa. On land, resistance is based on the amount of weight or work you are doing.
Bouyancy: Another benefit of the therapy pool is the buyoancy, which allows individuals to unload their joints. Simply floating on a pool noodle creates a natural traction that can benefit chronic back patients, individuals that have had back surgery among others. Bouyancy can also help you stretch. If you would like to stretch your legs, you can let the water lift your leg straight up, rather than have to pull your leg up if stretching on land.
Warmth: A therapy pool is typically kept in the low 80's (F). A cold pool will tighten your muscles upon submersion, where a warmer pool can help increase blood flow and loosen your joints & muscles.
Low Risk: For balance patients, traditional physical therapy has a few risks of falling, where a pool offers the safety and support of keeping individuals upright. It is also difficult for individuals with any other injuries to injure themselves further or fall. You are moving at your own speed, at your own comfortable pace.
Specific Muscles: The pool allows individuals to work on strengthening and stretching specific muscles and joints. If there is something specific in your body that needs development, a physical therapist can help you develop a workout plan to meet your needs.
Balance Exercises: With the growing awareness of the dangers of balance, aquatic therapy can help you regain balance functions. For example, consider an indivual with balance problems standing on one leg. Attempting the same task in the pool is much easier, and a workout program can be developed to help your muscles become accustomed to this unnatural position, helping with balance issues.
In addition to the therapy pools offered at certain Fyzical locations, you can perform aquatic therapy at your own pool or even find an aquatic exercise aerobic group near you. You can search for these at local gyms or online for a class near you! to hear Dr. Liz Kuba on Health IQ with Heidi Godman, click the link below to hear the audio!