Physio: Water-based exercises: Dive into hydrotherapy rehabilitation

Exercising in the water can have many benefits to the body.

With the temperatures soaring these summer days, many people are hitting the lake to cool down.

But hopping in to the cool blue does more than just help you to beat the heat—exercising in the water can have many benefits to the body.

Hydrotherapy (the use of water in treating various conditions) can be used to treat arthritis, post-joint replacement surgery, low back pain, neurological conditions, musculoskeletal injuries, and more.

Even if you aren’t treating a physical condition, exercising in the water is a great way to keep your muscles strong, and your cardiovascular system healthy.

If you aren’t a swimmer, hydrotherapy still can be an option, as exercises are often performed in chest-height depth or less.

Hydrotherapy can assist with pain, range of motion of joints, strength, balance, walking, and even spasticity through the properties of water.

Buoyancy can assist in unloading sore, or arthritic joints.

It can also assist weak muscles, depending on the direction of movement. Conversely, buoyancy can also provide resistance in order to strengthen weaknesses.

Another beneficial characteristic of hydrotherapy is the hydrostatic pressure—the pressure that the water exerts on your body.

This can help to decrease swelling, and to improve venus return (blood flow back to the heart).

Exercises can be performed in different temperatures, depending on the goal of the hydrotherapy. For example, when addressing pain or stiffness, a warmer pool is usually preferred.

For more vigorous exercises, a more refreshing temperature is ideal.

Many land-based exercises can be performed in the water, with little or no modifications to performance necessary.

If you have been prescribed exercises, and you are interested in turning them into pool- or lake-based, your physiotherapist can be of assistance in this.

If water-based exercises are safe and comfortable for you, here are some that you can try in the pool, or in Ogopogo’s watery home.

Only do the exercises through a range that is without pain. You may feel like your muscles are working hard, and your heart rate may increase, but don’t push on if you are having any negative symptoms such as: chest pains, shortness of breath, dizziness, or anxiety.

Slow-and-controlled is the name of the (exercise) game in order to stay safe, as well as making your body work harder.

• Marching on the spot with high knees

• Forward walking

• Sideways walking

• Backwards walking, great on the glut muscles

•Squats, just watch how far down you go, depending on the water depth

• Bend and straighten elbows, with palms facing up

Even with all the benefits listed, it is important to decide if exercising in the water is right for you.

Factors to consider are: the accessibility of the pool, anxiety or fear of being in water, availability of assistance if required, negative reactions to being in cool or warm water, open sores, active infections/inflammation, or any medical conditions that may be affected by this kind of exercise.

If you are unsure, ask a health professional before initiating this activity. If you chose to take the plunge into hydrotherapy, be sure to have fun and enjoy the beautiful summer weather the valley has to offer.

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