Aquatic Physical Therapy
What is aquatic physical therapy?
Aquatic physical therapy, sometimes also simply called aquatic therapy, is a form of physical exercise that takes place in water, and is used to promote relaxation, unloading of painful joints, fitness, physical rehabilitation, and other therapeutic benefits.
Aquatic exercise can be beneficial to those with neuromuscular or musculoskeletal disorders, providing relief from pain and inflammation. Water-based therapy offers numerous unique qualities such as reduced impact on joints and muscles, relaxation of muscles, and improved circulation.
Advantages of Aquatic Therapy
If you’ve tried to get back into the swing of things after an injury, you know that sometimes traditional physical therapy can sometimes make the pain and discomfort worse.
Aquatic therapy provides a buoyant, supportive environment that alleviates the impact on joints and muscles, making it an ideal choice for patients seeking relief from various conditions. Aquatic physical therapy can be a great alternative, because it uses the physical properties of water to enhance outcomes and accelerate your recovery.
Buoyancy and Reduced Impact on Joints
Imagine floating effortlessly through your therapy session, feeling your body weight melt away.
This is the experience of buoyancy in aquatic therapy, which reduces the impact on joints and makes movement during exercises easier and more comfortable.
Buoyancy supports the body, decreases weight bearing, and lessens the impact on joints, allowing you to participate in therapy without fear of causing further damage. Think of water as nature’s cushion, providing a protective layer that shields bones, joints, and ligaments from the impact often experienced during land-based activities.
Hydrostatic Pressure and Improved Circulation
As you immerse yourself in water, you may not realize that the pressure exerted on your body is working wonders for your circulation. Hydrostatic pressure in aquatic therapy improves blood flow, reduces swelling, and provides support for balance and stability.
This increased circulation promotes healing and can aid in the recovery process for various conditions. Furthermore, hydrostatic pressure creates a stable environment, enhancing coordination and balance during aquatic therapy exercises.
The therapeutic effects of water pressure can pave the way for enhanced health and mobility.
Resistance and Muscle Strengthening
In aquatic therapy, the natural resistance of water is used to build strength and increase overall fitness.
Aquatic physical therapists will often talk of how water’s viscosity creates natural resistance. That characteristic is harnessed during aquatic therapy.
Your physical therapist may also encourage the use of various equipment, such as paddles or fins, for increased resistance training. Water therapy can be a way for your physical therapist to provide resistance exercises in a safe and effective way.
Who can benefit from aquatic physical therapy?
Physical therapists specializing in aquatic therapy are skilled professionals who treat a wide range of conditions, including orthopedic issues, neurological disorders, and special needs in pediatric and geriatric populations. The versatility of aquatic therapy makes it an ideal choice for patients seeking relief and rehabilitation from various ailments.
From arthritis to joint replacements and sports injuries, orthopedic conditions can cause significant discomfort and hinder daily activities. Aquatic therapy offers a low-impact environment that can help alleviate pain and facilitate recovery for these conditions. The benefits of aquatic therapy include:
- Buoyancy provided by water reduces joint stress and pressure
- Increased range of motion
- Improved circulation
- More comfortable exercise experience
The road to recovery for those with neurological disorders, such as stroke, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s disease, can be challenging and often filled with uncertainty. Aquatic therapy provides a supportive and adaptable environment, allowing for tailored treatments that address the unique needs of each individual.
Benefits of aquatic therapy for those with neurological disorders include:
- Improved mobility
- Enhanced balance
- Increased proprioception
- Improved functional mobility
Pediatric and Geriatric Populations
Aquatic therapy is a great option for both pediatric and geriatric populations, as it offers a safe and engaging environment for rehabilitation and wellness.
For children with special needs, aquatic therapy sessions can address conditions such as attention deficit disorder (ADHD), cerebral palsy, and autism, while promoting overall growth and development.
For elderly individuals, aquatic therapy can provide the following benefits:
- Increased stability
- Improved flexibility
- Enhanced cardio endurance
- Reduced joint pain
Is aquatic therapy right for you?
Water therapy is a powerful and versatile approach to rehabilitation, harnessing the unique properties of water to provide a supportive and low-impact environment for patients with various conditions.
Many physical therapists recommend aquatic therapy as a part of your physical therapy plan, recognizing that water therapy can complement a traditional physical therapy program.
From the benefits of buoyancy and hydrostatic pressure to the specialized equipment and facilities, aquatic therapy offers a refreshing alternative to land-based therapy.
Whether you are seeking relief from orthopedic issues, neurological disorders, or seeking wellness for pediatric or geriatric populations, aquatic therapy can unlock the door to a healthier and more active lifestyle.
You should always look for a licensed physical therapist who has experience with aquatic therapy before beginning an aquatic therapy routine. You’ll want to make sure you feel comfortable with the physical therapist, as well as the aquatic therapy locations you’ll be using.
Frequently Asked Questions
Aquatic therapy utilizes the unique properties of water to provide a supportive, low-impact environment for patients, while land-based therapy takes place on dry land and may not offer the same level of support when you perform exercises. Rather than going to a gym or having a mobile physical therapist treat you in your living room, you’ll be using a pool for your aquatic therapy.
While it’s not necessary in all situations, aquatic therapy can be a more comfortable and less impactful alternative to physical therapy for those with joint pain, chronic pain, or stress. The buoyancy from the water reduces weight on the joints, providing relief that may not be achieved through land-based physical therapy.
Aquatic therapy has been proven to be beneficial in addressing neurological disorders such as cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, and autism spectrum disorders, improving mobility, balance, proprioception, and functional mobility.
Aquatic therapy utilizes pools, floatation devices and various resistance tools to enhance treatment while you perform exercises. At other times, the water itself is the only equipment you’ll need, as it naturally provides hydrostatic pressure and resistance.
Ready to start aquatic therapy?
Are you looking for an aquatic therapist near you?
If you’re in the East County area of San Diego, Live Life Physiotherapy can help! Live Life Physiotherapy provides customized mobile physical therapy in San Diego to those who need it, where they need it.
While we mainly treat patients on dry land, we recognize the value of aquatic physical therapy. However, as a mobile physical therapy clinic, we are only able to offer aquatic therapy to patients with access to a pool.
If that’s you – give us a call!
Every day, we help residents of La Mesa, El Cajon, Santee, Lakeside, Del Cerro, San Carlos, and the surrounding areas with their physical therapy needs by removing many of the common restrictions and challenges of traditional physical therapy. Our ultimate goal is to help you live your best life.
If you are ready to try aquatic therapy and live life on your terms, contact us today!