Hydrotherapy is a different treatment with the use of water, including arthritis and other rheumatic related complaints. It differs from swimming because it is a special exercise that you will do in a warm-pool water. Usually, the water is up to 33-36°C which is warmer than a typical swimming pool.
Hydrotherapy tends to be different to aquarobics, which can be quite strenuous, as it’s generally more focused on slow, controlled movements and relaxation.
Is hydrotherapy similar to spa therapy?
Spa therapy is based on the theory that the mineral content of spa water has special health-giving properties. In many European countries, hydrotherapy often takes place in spa water.
Although there’s some research that suggests the mineral content of the water may make a difference, other studies show that hydrotherapy has significant benefits regardless of the water used.
How does hydrotherapy help?
Hydrotherapy can help you in a number of different ways:
The warmth of the water allows your muscles to relax and eases the pain in your joints, helping you to exercise.
The water supports your weight, which helps to relieve pain and increase the range of movement of your joints.
The water can be used to provide resistance to moving your joints. By pushing your arms and legs against the water, you can also improve your muscle strength.
Aquatic Fitness: Exercise and Physical Activity for Older Adults
Aquatic exercise allows the application of the physical stress theory for individuals who cannot tolerate the stresses of land-based exercises. The buoyancy of the water allows a deconditioned individual or an individual with significant joint pathology to exercise by lessening the impact on the joints, thus serving as a viable environment for individuals who have pain. The buoyancy of water decreases compressive forces within joints by 36% to 55% while offering hydrostatic support to the upright position.89 Older adults may have lower body density and a higher level of buoyancy owing to body composition.
Aquatic exercise can be used to improve cardiorespiratory fitness, strength, power, bone density,90 flexibility, and agility.91 Aquatic exercise may have moderate-sized effects on physical functioning in healthy older adults when compared with no training, and may be at least as effective as land-based exercise.
In a meta-analysis of the effect of aquatic exercise in older adults, the authors found that younger participants (< 68 years of age) may benefit more, which may result from the higher intensity used. This review found no difference between two and three sessions/week. When compared with control interventions of usual care, education, telephone calls, social attention, and no intervention, aquatic exercise has small short-term (immediately after treatment) improvement in pain, disability, and quality of life in people with knee and hip osteoarthritis or both. These effects on pain and disability were considered clinically relevant.
Dive In! -- Aquatic Therapy for People With Disabilities
Water. Not only is it essential for life, it provides far-reaching benefits to the body and mind. Just ask Penny Linder, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) 26 years ago and has been using aquatics, or water exercise, to help relieve chronic pain caused by the neurological disease.
Although Linder may not be able to jump freely into the pool like she did as a child, she values aquatics for what it can provide her both physically and mentally -- a chance to feel healthy despite a disability that has gradually curbed her energy.
"I don?t feel disabled in the water," she said. "I feel stronger and more healthy in the pool because I can do things there that I couldn?t dream of dong on land."
Because water eliminates the effects of gravity on the body, pain and stress on muscles and joints are greatly reduced. As result, Linder and others like her, can stretch and strengthen weakened arms and legs within their full range of motion. While standing in a pool, they can also use the weight of water to help correct problems in gait and balance with less effort than on land.
Aquatics are particularly recommended for people with MS because water is more efficient in drawing heat away from the body than is air. This helps keep the body from overheating, which often causes MS symptoms to worsen temporarily.
The soothing effects of the water can also benefit other people with disabilities, according to experts at Shepherd Center, an Atlanta-based hospital that specializes in treating people with MS and brain and spinal cord injuries. Read more...
Water Workouts Ease Fibromyalgia Pain
Exercising in a warm pool offers multiple benefits for people with fibromyalgia who avoid traditional land-based physical activity because it is too painful. Water workouts can improve overall fitness while putting less stress on the body.
How Water Alleviates Fibromyalgia Symptoms
The water’s buoyancy eases stress on the joints, and its warmth helps tight muscles relax. This reduces stiffness and alleviates muscle spasms, resulting in greater flexibility and range of motion than is possible with land-based activities.
The individual’s body is supported by the water, reducing the chance of injury from losing one’s balance. At the same time, the pressure of the water boosts heart and lung strength and enhances blood flow.
The soothing effect of the water may also reduce the perception of pain, helping lower anxiety— two common problems experienced with fibromyalgia.1
Water Therapy Exercise Program
Water therapy exercise is especially helpful in cases where a land-based exercise program is not possible due to the intensity of pain, decreased bone density, disability or other factors. As such, water therapy is a versatile exercise and is particularly good for people with conditions such as:
Advanced osteoporosis (with susceptibility to and/or pain from fracture)
Muscle strain or tears
In addition to those conditions, water therapy is frequently recommended as one form of exercise therapy to treat those with diabetes as well as individuals with high blood pressure. Both conditions can improve and become more manageable with aquatic exercise.
All of these conditions can make it uncomfortable or painful to exercise on a hard or even padded surface, or while standing. Water provides a much gentler, welcoming environment.