Benefits of Aquatic Therapy
H2O Fitness Collaborative houses a new, Endless Pool E550 Swim Spa with a wide range of benefits, including an underwater treadmill and camera technology for assessing swim form and movement patterns. The pool also functions as a tool for aquatic therapy — a physical therapy modality with the benefits of warm water immersion.
Aquatic Therapy Benefits a Wide Range of Rehabilitation Scenarios
A 2002 study published in the journal Physiotherapy Research International concluded there is a “benefit from hydrotherapy in pain, function, self-efficacy and affect, joint mobility, strength, and balance, particularly among older adults, subjects with rheumatic conditions and chronic low back pain.”
Other studies demonstrate the efficacy of aquatic therapy for rehab of surgical rotator cuff repair and ACL reconstruction, particularly when combined with traditional modalities. Water-based therapy is beneficial when people are unable to exercise comfortably on land. Starting a program in the water can lead to the safe and efficient development of strength and the movement patterns needed to get back to sport or daily activities.
When therapy is conducted this way, participants benefit from the natural properties of water, including buoyancy and viscosity.
Why Water Immersion Matters
The inherent properties of water — specifically density, viscosity, and in the Endless pool, temperature — all influence rehab or training.
Because the human body is less dense than water, submersion means reduced weight bearing on joints. Buoyancy has benefits that include the ability to move safely and smoothly without the risk of falling.
Water is also viscous, meaning it exerts some resistance when we try to move through it. Working against uniform resistance is a beneficial, efficient way to build muscle. Anyone with reduced mobility or pain during movement on land might find water immersion allows more comfortable motion.
That same resistant force, taken while walking or running on an underwater treadmill or even performing simple, repetitive movements, can increase cardiovascular fitness. Maintaining and building aerobic capacity is an essential step for athletes looking to get back to competition or anyone recovering from illness or injury.
Finally, warm water submersion promotes muscle relaxation and can decrease swelling and inflammation.
Aquatic Therapy is a Tool for Physical Therapists
Aquatic therapy is conducted with the guidance and direction of a physical therapist who designs a program to address individual needs and goals. Modalities can include massage, movement with or without resistance, balance drills, and walking or running on the treadmill.
At H2O Fitness Collaborative, physical therapists have the unique ability to combine aquatic therapy with traditional modalities. Progressing through water immersion work and back into sport-specific or daily life movement patterns during therapy paves the way for a successful return to pre-injury form and fitness.
About the Author
Carrie McCusker is an endurance athlete and coach who enjoys bringing detailed, individual attention to her clients. She is also a writer and student, tapping a love of deep research to explore all aspects of human performance, nature, and the interplay between the two. You can find her on Strava and Instagram or check out her coach profile at TrainingPeaks.