Aqua therapy, also known as aquatic therapy, refers to water based treatments or exercises. If you are living with chronic pain, there are at least 5 ways that you might benefit from a nearby swimming pool.
Pain Reduction: Aqua therapy in known to decrease pain in individuals with a variety of conditions including lower back pain, arthritis, and fibromyalgia just to name a few. According to the Arthritis Foundation (2015), the benefits of aqua therapy on pain reduction have a prolonged effect that goes beyond the time in the water.
Increased Mobility: Chronic pain and injury can lead to a loss of mobility, which can then lead to a viscous cycle of pain and stiffness. Water can allow muscles to relax, lengthen and regain their full range of motion.
An Earlier Return to Exercise: The same upward pressure that makes us feel lighter in water can also offer a great environment to exercise in without the excess pounding of a hard surface on our joints. In the water, you may be able to do some exercises, such as running, sooner after an injury than you could on land.
Decreased Risk of Falling: After an injury, it is common for our bodies to compensate and for one side of the body to be stronger than other. These muscle imbalances can lead to an increased risk of falling. Especially for those who have experienced vertigo, traumatic brain injury, or for the geriatric population, the pool can be a much safer place to get in a workout.
Mood Improvement: Chronic pain and depression often go hand in hand and for good reason. When you are in pain, you often become socially isolated. Attending an aqua therapy class with others is shown to improve overall mood according to the International Journal of Neurorehabilitation (2015).
Aqua therapy can be a very specialized form of physical therapy. For this reason, you may want to search out a facility in your area that has a knowledgeable staff and understands your unique needs. Depending on your condition, it may also be a good idea to ask about the temperature of the pool water ahead of time. For training or racing, pool water is usually kept around 80 degrees. However, if you are not able to move very well and bring up your own body temperature quickly, 80 degrees can feel surprisingly cold. A warmer pool may also be more beneficial especially if stiffness is an issue.
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Tracy Davenport, Ph.D., is a freelance health writer and the C.E.O. of Tracy’s Smoothie Place. She serves as the expert on a weekly radio show about health and wellness and is the author of Making Life Better for a Baby with Acid Reflux and multiple articles about the cost of caregiving. Learn more about Tracy and what healthy living services and products she can offer on her website. She can also be found on Twitter and Instagram @drinksmoothies.