Published on June 24, 2015
The Healing Potential of Water-Based Exercise
Aqua therapy, or pool exercises, are a very effective training technique for conquering neck, back and joint pain. Training in the water creates a natural decompression of our body, allowing for increased healing of injured or degenerative tissues. Working out in deep water decreases our body weight by approximately 50% with absolutely no impact. Therefore, if patients with aches and pains are unable to do weight bearing exercises, the water allows for slow progressions to help with full function recovery.
As patients start progressing with their injury, they can slowly start moving to shallow water- which will help re-introduce weight bearing exercises as the body tolerates it. Ultimately, the goal is to build-up strength and endurance in order to do land based exercises.
As discussed above, the pool is very effective as water not only provides a therapeutic healing benefit for the tissues, but also provides resistance, allowing patients to regain strength in all planes of motion. The water makes you feel lighter, as gravity is eliminated, making the exercises easier and one can work with their joint motion slowly in all directions.
Patients can use aqua therapy to help with recovering, or even with severe injuries, such as fractured bones, painful arthritis, degeneration, and disc bulges, etc. It is also great for the cardiovascular system and can be used for performance sessions with high intensity and no impact. As well, the water increases blood flow and circulation by approximately seven times which helps expedite the recovery process by decreasing inflammation and increasing circulation to the injured tissues.
Water jogging has recently been shown by research to be an effective way to maintain and promote physiological function of the leg muscles when injured from high intensity exercise. It also helps while the broken down tissues repair from hard workouts. Thus, many pro athletes utilize water-based therapy and exercise after hard workouts to flush out metabolic waste of the damaged tissues.
Chronic pain patients find heated pool therapy to be very effective in the treatment of their condition. The heat from the pool increases circulation and creates a release in endorphins, which decreases pain levels and allows patients to experience the benefits mentioned above with little stress to their bodies. The heat and water naturally allow the tissues to expand that have become tight and fibrotic from chronic pain. The water is also soothing for the mind, which helps fight central sensitization by allowing the brain to calm down and decrease its hypersensitivity.
One Step At a Time
When in the water, always ensure to focus on bracing your core and moving the hips and upper body with little movement through the abdomen. This will prevent a loss of energy when transferring the power from the hips to the upper body. Be creative and use props to make it exciting. All the same exercises you do on land can be done in the water.