Why is Aquatic Therapy Frequently Used?

A woman experiencing pain relief during an aquatic physical therapy session

Aquatic physical therapy is a popular treatment option for a wide range of conditions and injuries. If you’ve considered aquatic therapy or have been recommended it by someone, you may be wondering why. Aquatic therapy has many benefits, which is why it is a recommended form of physical therapy for many uses. Read on to see the benefits of aquatic therapy and swimming.

Benefits of Aquatic Therapy

There are many benefits of aquatic therapy for the body. In addition to being a great form of exercise, it can help soothe and treat a variety of conditions and injuries.

Soothes Sore Muscles

Relaxing in water can help soothe sore muscles, especially in a heated pool. If you have sore muscles from intense exercise or from building weakened muscles back up, having a low-impact swimming routine can give those muscles a break from time to time.

Appropriate for All Fitness Levels

Aquatic therapy and swimming exercises can be easily modified for any fitness level. Even if you are not a strong swimmer, you can still perform certain exercises with the help of a therapist. Whether you are a beginner or a pro-athlete, you can be sure there is an aquatic exercise routine for you.

Avoids Joint Strain

Because you feel lighter in the water, your joints experience less strain when you perform exercises in water. This makes aquatic therapy especially great for those who have joint issues. This can be great for the elderly, pregnant women, arthritis sufferers, and those who recently experienced a joint injury.

A young physical therapy patient engaging in aquatic exercises in a swimming pool

Aqua Therapy Swimming Techniques

There are several swimming strokes you can perform as part of your exercise routine. Take note that each has a different level of difficulty. Discuss any you would like to try with a physical therapist before attempting.

  • Front crawl: Also known as freestyle, this is the easiest swimming technique. It is beneficial for endurance and cardio exercise, as you can swim longer distances using this stroke.
  • Backstroke: Similar to the front crawl, but on your back. Those with back problems or who want to strengthen their back muscles can benefit from doing backstrokes. This stroke can be difficult to learn for some, so be careful when starting out.
  • Breaststroke: This stroke involves kicking your legs in a different way than other techniques. However, it is one of the easiest once you know how to perform it. Breaststroke is often recommended for those who want to swim as an easy form of exercise.
  • Butterfly: This technique is often considered the most difficult, as it is hard for even pro swimmers. Butterfly requires more ab strength than other strokes and can use up a lot of your energy quickly. It is recommended for strong swimmers who want to challenge themselves.

Aqua Therapy Swimming Benefits

Swimming as a form of exercise has many benefits for your body. One of the best parts about swimming is that it is a low-impact exercise that can be easily modified, allowing almost anyone to do it regardless of abilities, injuries, or conditions.

Cardiovascular Exercise

Swimming is an excellent form of cardio exercise that you can incorporate into your workout schedule. The amount of cardiovascular benefits depends on what type of swimming you do and how much it raises your heart rate. Swimming strokes such as the front crawl (also known as freestyle) are easy to perform and can get your heart pumping.

Strength and Endurance Without Bearing Weight

One of the best parts about swimming is that you can build strength and endurance without having to bear your full body weight. Swimming has a lower impact and puts less stress on your joints and body than other forms of exercise, such as weight lifting and running. Build muscle and endurance by swimming laps with a decreased risk for pain and injury.

Common Aquatic Physical Therapy Exercises for the Pool

Common exercises you can use in conjunction with physical therapy include:

  • Water walking: Walk 10-20 steps forward and backward for around 5 minutes. Increase intensity by walking faster if comfortable.
  • Forward and side lunges: Try 3 sets of 10 lunges in waist-high water for the front and both sides.
  • Sidestepping: Just like water walking but sideways. Take 10-20 steps in one direction sideways and then walk 10-20 steps sideways in the other direction.
  • Arm raises: Hold your arms at your sides and bend your elbows 90 degrees. Raise and lower your elbows and arms towards and away from the surface of the water for 3 sets of 10.
  • Standing knee lift: In chest-high water, lift your knees one at a time like you are marching in place for 3 sets of 10.

Visit Cawley Physical Therapy Today to Learn More

Aquatic physical therapy is an effective means of treating a diverse array of problems, from muscle pain and sore joints to cardiovascular health and deconditioning. It’s also a great way to rehab injuries without putting strain on your body.

For more information on how water therapy helps rehabilitation or to schedule a consultation, visit Cawley Physical Therapy and Rehab today, or give us a call at 570-208-2787 or email cawleyptfrank@gmail.com.