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The Benefits of Aquatic Therapy

January 30, 2014 12:05pm | CORE PT & MC | by Core Movement Specialists

In a recent article titled “The Power of Aquatic Therapy” published in the Training and Conditioning Magazine[1], they describe the use of pool therapy to challenge and progress a post-surgical patient (who was actually an NFL player with an ACL repair) faster by using the pool.  The water gave them the ability to unweight his body further than what they could with traditional land based therapy.  This allowed them to focus on safely strengthening sooner in his rehab process. 

Here at CORE Strategies PT we also have the ability to use a pool to assist you in your rehabilitation process.  It can be a wonderful tool to unweight (unload) your body to decrease the stress and strain on your painful tissues (such as decreasing pressure on your low back; or unweighting your body to decrease the load going through your newly surgically repaired knee meniscus). 

There are several options within aquatic therapy we can use to make an exercise easier or more challenging depending on your level of function.  We have the ability to use shallow or deeper water to exercise which will change the amount of buoyancy you feel, thus making a task easier or harder.  In this article this is what the therapists were able to do with the NFL player.  They started in deeper water to unweight him more and gradually progressed to shallow water.   The viscosity of the water provides a nice resistance to your movement to allow strengthening.  This resistance combined with the buoyancy principle of water allows strengthening without the stress on your joints that cannot be accomplished on land.  We can use equipment such as foam dumb bells, kick boards, and pool noodles while in the water to increase the resistance and make an exercise more challenging.  Aquatic therapy also facilitates swelling reduction through the principle of hydrostatic pressure.  This pressure also helps you to feel where your joints and body are at in space; thus improving your proprioceptive awareness.  

Aquatic therapy can allow you to be more functional, when pain and/or surgery limit your ability to move easily on land.  It gives you the ability work on proper biomechanics in a safe and less strenuous environment.   Eventually this allows you to transition to performing exercises on land where you can learn to apply those same concepts into daily function and/or sports.  

As you can see there are numerous benefits of exercising in the water.   Contact us at CORE Strategies Physical Therapy if you have further questions or wonder if aquatic therapy may be right for you.

[1] The Power of Aquatic Therapy.  Training and Conditioning.  December 2013, Vol. XXIII, No. 9.

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