What is Hydrotherapy?
Aquatic therapy, commonly known as hydrotherapy, is the use of exercise therapy within a pool to target and treat a wide spectrum of conditions. These include general joint pain, low back pain, orthopaedic conditions, neurological conditions, pain related to arthritis, sports injuries, fibromyalgia, motor vehicle accidents, treatment post elective orthopaedic surgeries such as hip and knee replacements and many more. The use of gentle, controlled movements within the water gives the opportunity to steadily progress in one’s treatment regime within a safe, comfortable and enjoyable environment.
Hydrotherapy is significantly different from conventional swimming and aquaerobics. Whilst being less strenuous, it focuses on guided, controlled, pain–free movements with the ultimate aim of providing pain relief. The pool enables the user to exercise in a safe environment at different depths and with all the equipment needed.
What are the benefits of Hydrotherapy?
Minimises Aches and Pains
The warmth of the water relaxes muscular spasm which is commonly found in close proximity to the area of pain. Vasodilation, which is the widening of blood vessels, also helps in increasing circulation in the area of discomfort which ultimately helps in accelerating the healing process.
Hydrotherapy can help strengthen weak musculature. Different exercises can be undertaken in water and the type of exercise prescribed will vary according to the condition or injury being treated. Resistance provided by the water itself helps to strengthen weak musculature. Exercises can be progressed by increasing the speed of movement or by increasing surface area by introducing various special forms of floats.
The increased temperature of the water helps in relaxing tight musculature with the resulting increase in range of movement of any particular joint. This will help the user to feel more mobile and flexible.
Improves General Fitness
Physical fitness can be described as a measure of the body’s ability to function in an efficient and effective manner during daily activities without undue fatigue. This can be achieved through appropriate nutrition, sufficient moderate to high intensity exercise and adequate amounts of rest. Exercising within a pool can help in achieving the goal of being physically fit in a safe, professional and enjoyable environment.
Minimal Impact on Joints
A hydrotherapy pool provides the opportunity to exercise without your bones and muscles being shackled by gravity’s constraints. Therefore, hydrotherapy conveniently provides a gateway to exercise in certain conditions were constant ground impact is too painful or not indicated.
Feel Good factor
Exercising in warm water helps the body to release several hormones that contribute towards feeling energised and less fatigued. Research is also showing that exercising in warm water may also aid in alleviating symptoms of anxiety and depression. Moreover, the following unique properties of water are used in the treatment process Buoyancy is one of the unique properties of water which gives a feeling of weightlessness whilst exercising in the pool. This enables the person in the pool to carry out exercises which are usually very difficult to carry out on land given that the body feels much lighter in
This helps to assist and improve quality of movement of stiff or weak joints. This is also extremely useful when normal walking or weight-bearing is restricted or painful especially following various forms of orthopedic procedures or acute injuries. Hydrostatic Pressure whereby the water itself exerts external pressure on the limb in question and helps in draining any swelling which might be present. This is how hydrostatic pressure is thought to further help in rehabilitation, particularly after recent injury or surgery.
Turbulence: Currents and eddies in the water contribute towards providing an unstable environment which in itself helps towards strengthening stabiliser muscles of the body. Turbulence can also provide resistance to movement which helps in strengthening weak musculature and helps to improve balance and co-ordination which may be impaired after injury or illness.
Improves Balance with consequent decrease in risk of falls: Water is a moving body. This makes it a very useful tool to challenge and retrain balance, with the ultimate benefit of reducing the risk of falls.