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What Are Hydrotherapy Exercises?

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  • Written By: Simone Lawson
  • Edited By: Lucy Oppenheimer
  • Last Modified Date: 11 October 2014
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Hydrotherapy exercises are a form of physical therapy performed in water. This type of exercise is typically used to alleviate the stress that regular exercise imposes on the body. While anyone can benefit from hydrotherapy, also known as aquatic therapy, older and heavier people typically engage in these types of exercises. They are beneficial especially to those living with pain, injury, or other health problems.

Usually performed in a warm water pool, hydrotherapy is used to help relieve joint pain and muscle tension. The water works to ease mobility and provide safe cushioning for stressed or fragile bones and muscles. There are a number of types of exercises that can be performed; which ones are employed generally depends on the instructor or therapist and the nature of the patients’ illness.

Hydrotherapy is an effective component to weight loss and is often recommended to patients who are overweight and suffering from the symptoms of obesity. Exercises performed in water alleviate the pressure that land exercises cause on the joints of overweight patients. An instructor will usually begin by having patients walk the pool floor and perform vigorous leg kicks while holding on to the pool's wall or a kick board to maintain balance. As weight loss occurs and body strength increases, patients are usually able to increase endurance and perform a wider range of hydrotherapy exercises.

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Arthritis and osteoarthritis sufferers often benefit from aquatic exercises as well. Hydrotherapy exercises work to increase the production and distribution of synovial fluids which aid joint mobility — a key problem imposed by arthritis. Performing hydrotherapy in heated water, as opposed to tepid water, also helps loosen the ligaments and joints by relaxing tensed muscles.

Those suffering from osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis generally perform hydrotherapy in specially-designed pools with metal bars lining the sides. Patients usually exercise by holding the side rails and performing a variety of arm and leg lifts. Knee squats may also be performed to loosen the knee joints while enjoying the support of water. Exercises are generally taught on a condition-specific basis and may be modified to decrease or increase intensity.

While hydrotherapy is usually thought of as a type of exercise for older or heavier people, it's also available to those who are simply looking for an alternative form of exercise. Some gyms or fitness centers offer aquatic exercise classes to their general membership. Most classes include exercises to improve cardiovascular strength, flexibility and muscle tone. Anyone may benefit from hydrotherapy exercises, especially those with past sports injuries or weakening joints.

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burcinc
Post 4

I don't go for hydrotherapy for exercise per say, but rather to relax my muscles. I'm a body builder and my muscles get terribly stiff and tender sometimes from all the weight lifting.

I went to a hydrotherapy session once with a friend's recommendation and noticed that my muscles were less painful and way more relaxed afterwards. I think it's the combination of warm water and soft pool exercises.

I haven't been able to find a better way to loosen up muscles as of yet and I'll probably be going as long as I continue body building.

turquoise
Post 3

My grandmother is doing hydrotherapy classes at her community pool twice a week. She has osteoporosis and had a bad fall last year and fractured a bone. She's supposed to exercise regularly to strengthen her bones but she's been too scared. She's afraid that she'll slip and fall and break something again. The fracture is healed but it still gives her pain from time to time.

The solution her doctor and we have reached is hydrotherapy exercises. She first started doing them at a rehabilitation center and then signed up for hydrotherapy classes when she came back home. We're lucky because our community pool offers it and she's able to go twice a week. They do various movements in the water and use hydrotherapy equipment to strengthen muscles and bones.

The great part is that there is no fear of falling. She just has to be careful getting in and out of the pool. I go to drop her off and pick her up and will watch her during the session and help her get in and out. It's been going great.

SteamLouis
Post 2

I've known for a while that exercises done in water and swimming is much more beneficial and healthier than other exercises.

I have really weak ankles and I had to quit exercises like jogging all the way back in college. Any time I do exercises on land, I develop multiple problems like tendonitis and ankle sprains that take weeks to months to heal and become more painful every time.

One time in college, I went to my doctor again for tendonitis and she told me that I need to stop doing land exercises and hit the pool instead. She explained to me that in water, our feet, ankle and legs don't carry the weight of our body. Whereas on land, they carry all the weight and exercises that require jumping or bouncing makes it even worse.

I started doing water therapy exercises with her recommendation and started swimming regularly for exercise. I'm happy to say that I have not suffered from sprained ankle or tendonitis since then. Hydrotherapy is just fantastic in my opinion. And you can literally do it your whole life. But exercises like jogging, you can only do for so long until your bones and muscles give out.

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