Experiencing aquatic therapy with a physical or occupational therapist can do wonders for people experiencing chronic pain conditions, mobility issues, and even recovering from surgery.
Patients that cannot or are not strong enough to exercise on land find they can easily experience therapy in the pool. When in a pool up to shoulder level a person only needs to support 10% of their actual body weight. The water really helps people with balance issues be able to have therapy without worrying about the possibility of falling over. An upward force is created on the body by the buoyancy of the water in the pool. This force allows people a greater range of motion and helps them to easily accomplish a number of different exercises.
The Waters Resistance
The pool creates a natural full body weight resistance machine. Patients gain the benefits of resistance without increasing their chance of becoming injured. Water resistance can rage from 4 to 42 times greater than air depending on the speed and effort exerted against it. Aquatic exercises can be some of the most energy intense workouts available. The extra energy used during a pool therapy session can help improve injuries and increase muscle tone at a much quicker rate, than therapy on land. Being in the water helps to slowdown movements, this creates the perfect environment to rebuild muscle memory. The slower movements make it easier for a therapist to work with a patient on muscle reeducation.
Hydrostatic pressure is the force placed on a body by submerging it in water. This pressure can help decrease pain and edema. This hydrostatic pressure treats submerged areas of the body like compression stockings. This results in the relief of chronic muscle pain.
The warm water of the 94-degree pool helps create muscle relaxation. This happens because circulation is improved when blood vessels dilate in the warm water. The increased circulation helps move any lactic acid build-up away from the muscles to prevent muscle soreness.
Diluted Sense of Touch
Being in the water dulls the body’s sense of touch. This happens because the water is touching the body everywhere and so the body becomes less sensitive to the feeling of being touched. Pain reduction occurs in the pool because of this phenomenon. The reduction in pain makes exercise in the pool much easier to do. Another advantage of this is it makes it easier for patients that don’t like to be touched to work with a physical or occupational therapist.
Other Aquatic Therapy Benefits
- Helps arthritis patients find some symptom relief and get some exercise
- Increases energy and helps improve sleep quality
- Improves posture and balance
- Increases muscle strength
- Improves fitness and endurance
- Increases flexibility and joint mobility
- Supports weak muscles
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