Aquatic therapy is an exercise program that is done in a pool of water. It can be beneficial to a variety of physical conditions and injuries. The patient can use the water’s physical properties in the healing process and in performing exercises. The water provides a safe and comfortable environment that allows patients to do their exercises more freely without the strain of gravity.
Aquatic therapy Exercises
• Leg raise. This exercise is done with one leg outstretched while the supporting leg is slightly bent with one hand holding the side of the pool for support. This aquatic therapy exercise works to stretch and strengthen the muscles in the hip, lower back and leg.
• Facing-the-wall leg stretch. This aquatic therapy stretching exercise is performed with hands on the side of the pool and the legs and body outstretched into and is supported by water. This aims to stretch all parts of the back as well as the joints. It also stretches the shoulder muscles.
• Knee-to-chest aquatic therapy. This exercise also stretches the muscles of the lower back, hip and leg. It is performed while the patient stands on one leg, slightly bent and the other leg is stretched out in front with a hand holding the side of the pool.
• Pool walking. This aquatic therapy walking exercise allows the patient to walk forwards and backwards in chest-deep water. This works the muscles of the legs without any impact on the knees or hips. This can become a power walk once light weights or hand floats are used.
• Quadruped activity. This exercise is for the arms and legs. For aquatic therapy, it is performed with the patient floating on his or her back. With the support of the physical therapist or a flotation jacket, the patient performs paddling movements with his or her legs and arms.
Aquatic therapy is a good method for exercise and rehabilitation. It is also effective in reducing stress due to the lessened effect of gravity in water. It is good to note though, the difference between aquatic therapy and aquatic exercises. The former focuses mostly on rehabilitative techniques to ensure the body is healing properly while the latter are mostly performed while the patient has no medical conditions and focuses mainly on recreation, weight loss, strength and endurance.