By: Gen Good-Malloy DPT
Today on the blog, I am going to do an FAQ section discussing aquatic therapy. I have had many of the same questions being asked by our patients, and I am here to answer some of those questions! The pool is a great place to exercise and begin a strengthening program and has become a preferred method of exercise for many of our patients who have pain while completing exercises on land.
Why would I do exercises in the pool when I need to be able to function on land?
Often, we will start therapy in the pool to help build strength and improve balance before we progress them to land-based therapy. The pool provides a safe place to start a strength program and work on balance as people do not have a fear of falling in the water and often feel less pain when exercising in the pool.
How warm is the pool?
The pool is kept around 90 degrees which can help decrease discomfort from aching and arthritic joints, but also help the body to relax and ease muscular tension.
How do you increase resistance in the pool?
In water, you can increase the resistance to movement by speeding up the exercise and lower the resistance by slowing down the movement. This allows the physical therapist to progress exercises in the pool just like they would on land. We also have different equipment that can be adjusted to increase resistance with specific exercises.
Why do I feel pain when doing this exercise on land, but it doesn’t hurt in the pool?
The buoyancy provided by the water reduces the effects of gravity working on the body and can help decrease the amount of weight and compression on joints. Therefore, most people are able to complete more exercises or more repetitions in the pool than what they can complete on land without increasing their pain.
What types of injuries or conditions can be treated with aquatic therapy?
Many people with arthritis, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and chronic pain syndromes such as fibromyalgia and complex regional pain syndrome (reflex sympathetic dystrophy) benefit greatly from aquatic therapy. People with spinal cord injuries or strokes are able to practice walking, improve balance, and complete functional activities in the pool. While the majority of our patients who are working in the pool have lower back pain or lower extremity injuries, we also treat many people with neck, shoulder, and upper back pain.
Can I do land therapy as well, or do all my appointments have to be in the pool?
Many people, upon recommendation from the physical therapists, will complete a combination of land and pool therapy so the person can receive manual therapy on land that is not able to be done in the pool.
How can I continue with the pool exercises if I don’t have access to a pool at home?
We offer an aquatic wellness program for a fee each month that allows a person to use the pool at their convenience any time our therapists are at the pool. The pool equipment is also available for use by the wellness patients and supervision is provided by our therapists.