Aquatic therapy is a widely used technique using both the thermal and mechanical characteristics of water. This low impact technique is effective in minimizing joint compression, in maintaining cardiovascular fitness and in strengthening muscles. This therapy is commonly applied to patients with disabilities.
The popularity of aquatic therapy is due to its multiple benefits. It promotes cardiovascular fitness although the heart does not have to work as hard. This is due to water pressure and aids in blood circulation. Aerobic exercise done in water up to the chest is likely to elevate the heart rate lower than it would in land.
Exercising while in water can also help in developing muscular endurance and strength. It is comparable to weight lifting and using resistance devices while performing aquatic therapy exercises can be done for more intensive routines in building muscles.
Flexibility can also be enhanced by doing aquatic therapy exercises. The buoy of the water allows the patient to move affected joints in a much wider range of motion that can be done on land. Also, the water buoyancy will lessen stress on the joints allowing it to heal at a faster rate.
Doing water exercises regularly can also help in reducing body fat. As an aerobic activity, it is an effective way to manage weight. A study says that one can easily burn up to 500 calories when doing an hour of aquatic exercises.
An addition benefit of doing aquatic therapy is in the patient’s mental health. The warmth of the water is conducive to relaxation and an overall improvement of the mood. It also reduces anxiety, stress and even depression.
Common aquatic therapy includes water pilates, watsu and ai chi ne. Water pilates is effective in improving range of motion, flexibility and increasing strength. The water resistance is beneficial to improve breath control, proper alignment of the spine and body as well as strengthening of the core.
Watsu is applied in reducing pain and stress as well as increasing circulation. Most often, this is used to rehabilitate patients with orthopaedic challenges and disabilities. This is a passive form of aquatic therapy since the therapist moves the patient in the water. Watsu has beneficial effects to the nervous and neuromuscular systems of the body.
Not all patients should perform aquatic therapy. There are some medical conditions that could be aggravated by water exercises. It is best to get the recommendation of a qualified therapist before undergoing aquatic physical therapy.