The Benefits of Hydrotherapy – Matthew Osborn AEP

For many, completing exercises at a gym or at a clinic is the optimal way of improving their health or managing a chronic condition.  The use of free weights, machines and bands provides many benefits such as improving strength, mobility, cardiovascular fitness and balance. However, there are some that struggle with land-based exercises, particularly just before or after surgery, where weight bearing activities are limited due to pain.

An alternative type of exercise therapy is one that can be done in a heated pool called Hydrotherapy. Hydrotherapy is a mode of exercise that is often completed in warm water (typically between 31-35 degrees) where gentle, controlled movements through to progressively harder exercises can be completed, depending on the person’s current level of fitness. Hydrotherapy can be implemented to improve mobility and improve strength in movements that can’t typically be done on land. Some additional benefits for hydrotherapy are;

  • Vasodilation of blood vessels –As we complete exercise in warm water, the warmer temperature results in an increase in vasodilation of the blood vessels. As a result, this leads to improved blood flow around the body which assists with reducing joint pain and stiffness. In addition, improved blood flow can manage cardiovascular pathologies such as Coronary artery disease due.
  • Reduced load on joints- Due to  being in water, the amount of gravity placed on the body is reduced and the buoyant force placed on the body, the impact that water based exercises have on the joints are minimised, making it easier to complete movements such as squats or lunges
  • Improves cardiovascular fitness and strength – Due to water providing a resistance when complete any movement, this still places a resistance on the muscles for them to overcome which will lead to muscular and strength adaptations.  The resistance placed on the body depends on the movement, more resistance will be applied if you work against the current and vice versa.

Here are some examples of exercises you can complete in the pool;

Alternate Chest Press and Row Split Squat

Torso Rotations with Noodle