Among various kinds of therapy, hydrotherapy is one which involves the use of water to cure different conditions. More specifically, in aquatic physiotherapy, the patient will be assisted by a therapist through a process which resembles swimming. It facilitates healing and improves the patient’s well-being.
“Water temperature plays an integral role in emotional health as well.” –Dr. Connie Hernandez
What Is Aquatic Physiotherapy?
It focuses more on a couple of exercises in a pool of warm water, which is approximately 33 to 36 degrees Celsius. Anchored on how the body would react to the stimulus, heat, and pressure coming from the water, it depends on the thermal effects of water to bring about healing. These effects transcend the skin and have actual impacts on the nerves and internal organs of the body.
“For starters, exercise releases endorphins, the body’s “feel-good hormones,” that can calm the mind and relax the body.” –Jenny C. Yip, PsyD
Among the exercises that are doable in the pool include water walking and jogging, lunges, balancing, sidestepping, kicking, planking, deep water bicycle, and push-ups.
What Conditions Are Treated?
Among the conditions treated by aquatic physiotherapy are the following:
- Muscle or Joint Injuries. Hydrotherapy increases blood circulation in the limbs due to hydrostatic pressure and mobilizes the scarred tissues. The joints become revitalized, and the process improves the length of the muscles. Also, the hormonal and nervous effects of water submersion ease pain and allow movement. Moreover, it can work in cases of muscle atrophy, muscular dystrophy, or arthritis, among others.
- Fractures. The natural buoyancy of the body when in water lightens body weight, thereby facilitating more natural movement compared to when the patient does it on dry land. Pressure from the water also reduces swelling, and sensory input improves balance. Especially for injuries which require surgeries, hydrotherapy provides a quicker and less invasive way towards recovery.
- Lower Back Pain. Water immersion reduces axial loading in the spine and improves spinal muscle flexibility. The free movement in water is also a safe and non-painful alternative to do the exercises because it decreases the risk of falls. But more than reducing pain, water therapy helps the patient with pain management strategies to better cope with it moving forward.
- Multiple Trauma. The higher water temperature enables relaxation of the muscles that have experienced tension in the traumatic incident. Water therapy reduces the pain from stiffness and leads to a reduction in fear and anxiety about the injury. Through the process, patients are also taught about pacing techniques and relaxation skills or tips so that they would learn to manage panic attacks or sudden fears in the future.
- Neurological Conditions. Water therapy also improves conditions such as dyspraxia, a delay in neuron development in the brain. The continuous water exercises normalize muscle tone and relieve pain. Moreover, water therapy induces resistance to strengthen the weak muscles of the body and improves the sense of balance, muscle coordination, motor control, posture, and blood circulation of the patient.
- Mental Health Conditions. Apart from physical pain, water therapy also has an effect of improving the mood and feelings of the patient. Water submersion is a calm and relaxing activity that has an effect of enhancing the self-confidence of the patient even after going through stressful situations. It has been shown to increase the production of endorphins in the body, the hormones responsible for happy feelings.
“Authentic happiness is relating to the entire universe. When someone relates and leaves nothing out, you can see it in the face and posture. There is a presence about a truly happy person, a look that says “Yes,” to oneself, to others, and to the world.” –Andrea F. Polard, PsyD
What Are The Other Benefits?
Other benefits of hydrotherapy include the strengthening of the immune system. Water immersion facilitates proper circulation of the white blood cells. They move around the body freely and more efficiently to help the body fight diseases.
Also, the higher temperature of the water used when doing hydrotherapy may induce sweating, which is the primary way of eliminating toxins in the body. It lets the patient flush out impurities and detoxify. It also reduces the production of cortisol, the stress hormones of the body. Aside from this, hydrotherapy also improves digestion, gives the patient an immediate massage treatment, and reduces the sensitivity of the body to pain.
Hydrotherapy or aquatic physiotherapy is no new modern phenomenon. It has been going around for ages now and is only waiting to be fully known and maximized by people for their various bodily concerns. Aside from its known effectivity in relieving body pain and mental health concerns, it is very safe and natural. So next time you want to try something to be pain-free, try hydrotherapy.