Aquatic therapy is used as a form of exercise that can improve functional abilities. There are many techniques that have been developed over the years to be used as aids for rehabilitation and treatment. In most cases, the core reason for choosing this particular type of exercise is because the buoyancy of the water allows people to perform techniques which they may otherwise find hard due to their body weight and gravity.
Therapists will often suggest pool exercises to those recovering after an illness, surgery, or a severe injury. Getting these patients to perform normal exercises to rebuild strength and regain mobility is not easy because of the pain and the inability to sustain physical exertions. Not to mention the risk of exacerbating the wound or sickness.
But when the same routine is done in aqua, the body weight is not a drag anymore. There is no joint stress or muscle pain in the whole body, and even the parts which are actually being used for the exercise are supported by the water. This is particularly beneficial to those with transient and chronic afflictions such as chronic fatigue syndrome or obesity. In many cases, the water offers the opportunity to improve on “land-based” techniques.
Air resistance tends to be constant and is only available in the direction of movement. But water resistance is much more flexible and is applied on the entire body. It helps rebuild sensory receptors and muscles. Blood circulation from the heart to the legs and back is greatly improved due to hydrostatic pressure. This reduces the swelling of the ankles and feet commonly seen in patients who lack mobility functions.
Many therapists use water flow adjustments as part of a technique which gets harder in stages. Patients start off by performing an exercise where the water flow provides assistance for required movements. After a while, the flow is stopped so that there is no assistance. In the next stage, the patient is required to perform the exercises against the flow where the resistance of the water makes it harder.
Tweaking the speed of the water flow allows the therapist to customize the exercise to match each patient’s abilities and needs. The speed is gradually raised or lowered in each direction in small steps. Rehabilitation for everything from broken bones to muscular dystrophy will be fast and easy using this technique.
Working out in a heated pool has can be a lot more beneficial. The warm water helps the muscles relax and loosen up. Patients suffering from joint pains are then able to perform movements that would otherwise cause a lot of pain. This heated pool therapy comes in very handy as an aid for arthritis and fibromyalgia treatment.
Beginners can start by learning specific techniques such as Ai Chi or Watsu. Seniors and pregnant women should consult a professional physiotherapist. On a lighter note, aquatic therapy can also be considered as a lifestyle choice which helps improve physical fitness and mental health. It can be used for stress relief, as part of a weight loss program, or as a treatment aid for sleep pattern disturbances.
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