Published on August 19, 2016
Spring and summer are my favourite seasons as warmer weather makes it much easier to get outside to exercise which enhances our overall health and well-being. One of my favorite tools for rehabilitating the body, recovering from surgeries, getting rid of aches and pains, and enhancing one’s performance with a great active recovery session is that of swimming. Swimming allows the body to decompress by eliminating gravity, it increases blood flow and circulation by seven times, and works our muscles and joints in all planes and movements.
Swimming is an excellent exercise & recovery tool for anyone – from kids to aging adults and professional athletes to weekend warriors. Swimming incorporates the use of both our upper and lower bodies together without any impact to our spine or joints. It is a great exercise for those suffering from arthritic conditions, chronic pain, fatigue, muscle pulls, rehabilitating, and post-operatively. Therefore, it should also be thought of as water therapy. The water is a natural treatment modality that increases blood flow approximately seven times which allows increased nutrition and removal of metabolic waste. Because of this increased circulation, metabolic waste excretion is promoted through the kidneys and explains why many of us have an increased frequency to urinate when swimming or doing aqua therapy.
I don’t know of any other modality on the market which will increase blood flow this much without debate. Water therapy also eliminates gravitates and allows our body to basically float as if we were in space. As well, one can use the deep end of the pool with an aqua belt or noodle under their arms to eliminate all impact. Using the pool for the rehabilitation of injuries or post-operatively will expedite your recovery time by allowing you to work through all planes of motion with resistance as you do the movement. Due to the unloading of the body, you will feel more comfortable with increasing the range of motion, which will increase your flexibility to reduce scar tissue build up.
Research has demonstrated that a hot pool utilized for chronic pain suffers helps to reduce their pain and disability. This can be explained with the knowledge that heat helps to increase tissue pliability and circulation. This, combined with the effects of the pool, allows one’s central nervous to relax which ultimately decreases one’s pain sensitivity. Reducing the pain will psychologically allow the patient to feel more comfortable to move their painful body part which most likely has not been moved in quite some time.
Water has natural healing powers that we must use to our advantage. It is one of the best recovery tools we have to help heal our bodies by increasing circulation to the periphery, promoting muscle relaxation, applying resistance for strength training of our muscles and joints, and increases body awareness, mobility and stability. The water allows individuals that otherwise would have a fear of falling, exercise with no fear of injury or strain on their joints.