Why would we use Hydrotherapy?
Hydrotherapy can be done at all ages and it suits all fitness types! The water has unique properties such as buoyancy, turbulence, hydrostatic pressure and resistance, which can be used to gain a range of exercise benefits. I’ll let you look into these factors yourself.
The general physical benefits from hydrotherapy include:
- Decreased pain
- Bone loss prevention
- Improved functional motor performance
- Increased pulmonary function
- Increased strength, endurance, fitness and mobility
- Prevention and management of a range of conditions, including arthritis, chronic pain, pre and post surgery, neurological conditions plus so much more!
Hydrotherapy also has psychological benefits including:
- Decreased depression and anxiety
- Improved body image
- Enhanced mood
- Improved quality of life
These are just a few of the benefits that everyone can receive from exercising in the water!
If you’re completely fit and able you might be saying that this is great, however, if you’re not so fortunate you might be asking, how is this going to benefit me specifically?
Below I’ve very briefly explained common chronic conditions/disabilities and have listed the potential benefits of engaging in hydrotherapy!
What can hydro help with?!
Osteoarthritis [OA] is the most common joint condition and occurs when cartilage in the joints breaks down causing significant pain, joint stiffness, and swelling in the joint. Through the regulated temperatures of a hydrotherapy pool, the physical pain may be alleviated, as well as improved balance, improved cardiovascular strength, increases in range of motion and increased motor function for improved quality of life. In addition, it reduces stiffness and allows joints and muscles to relax, making exercises more effective than land exercises based.
Multiple Sclerosis [MS] is a disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. Common symptoms that individuals with MS experience include fatigue, muscle weakness, heat intolerance, pain, anxiety, stress, depression, and cognitive dysfunction. Developing and undergoing activities in the water that are fun yet challenging produce outcomes of positive emotions such as enjoyment and reduction in overall symptoms. Additionally, hydrotherapy increases levels of energy, movement, social interactions and improved ability to relax in MS patients.
Cerebral Palsy [CP] is caused by brain injury or malformation early on in a child’s development and is a neurological impairment that affects the nervous system causing movement disorders. The primary characteristics of CP include weakness, paralysis, poor muscle tone, and a lack of coordination. Exercising in warm water, has the ability to increase the range of motion of the cervical spine in individuals with CP as the water temperature aids in relaxation and increased blood flow which contributes to an increased range of motion.
Autism Spectrum Disorder [ASD] is a neurodevelopmental disability that includes difficulties with social communication and interaction, the presence of restrictive and repetitive patterns of behaviors, interests, and activities. Reasons as to why hydrotherapy may be considered a treatment modality for those with ASD includes, the buoyancy of water reduces tension on the body, the consistent and moderate temperature as well as gravity eliminated environment is well tolerated for those with sensory processing difficulties, water activities have reduced external demands such as communication that are not required for swimming proficiency, and the repetitive nature of swimming skills may be a good match for those with ASD. It also may aid the improvement in maintaining boundaries of others, the five domains [eye contact verbalisation, vocalisation, interpretation and decreased gestural imitation], improvements in impulsivity and improvements in proprioception.
Definitely have a go at exercising in the water in a safe environment if you’re able to! The benefits of hydrotherapy for so many conditions are huge.
If you’re concerned about your safety or have any disabilities or chronic conditions or musculoskeletal/neurological impairments, it is important to reach out to an accredited professional and seek advice and supervision. Accredited Exercise Physiologists in particular are aware of the potential risks and contraindications of exercising in the water and help to achieve the positive health outcomes, rehabilitation and quality of life improvements for all ages!