Hydrotherapy is a tremendously beneficial form of aquatic exercise that has been used for centuries to treat various ailments. We define it as the use of water during immersion, together with movement effects on bodily systems like muscle tension and circulation.
Benefits of Hydrotherapy
There are several characteristics of water that change the way we move in the water. The first is buoyancy. Buoyancy is the lift that the water provides to the body, which ultimately decreases the loading on the joints and the weight of the person. Using different depths of water can change the difficulty of different exercises. For example, if you are neck deep in water, you are only putting around 10% of your bodyweight through your joints.
Another difference is hydrostatic pressure, which is the pressure that the water exerts on the body. It increases the deeper you go. It provides several benefits to the body, decreases sympathetic vasoconstriction, reduces vascular resistance and reduces stroke volume, which all act to reduce heart rate compared to land. Hydrostatic pressure also acts to allow weaker muscles to have a better ability to control the joints, hence reducing the stress to them.
What are some benefits of hydrotherapy?
For the right patient, there are many benefits of hydrotherapy. These include:
- Pain relief
- Fat loss
- Increased confidence with movement
- Reduced fear of falling
- Increased exercise capacity
- Easy and safe way of changing resistance of exercises
- Reduced anxiety and stress because of the calming effects of water
- Fun social activity
Who is appropriate for hydrotherapy?
Common conditions that may be suited to hydrotherapy include:
- Post-surgical rehabilitation
- Stroke rehabilitation
- Chronic pain patients
- Cardio-respiratory conditions
- Athletes returning from soft tissue or stress reaction injuries
- Social and mental health conditions
Hydrotherapy is suitable for patients who suffer from a range of different conditions. Please consult with your physiotherapist to check your suitability for hydrotherapy. Two people with the same condition may be best suited to different management plans. A lot of patients can get great benefits from structured home exercise programs, whilst others may benefit from a short stint in the water.