The Benefits of Aquatic Therapy
by Nick Travers, DPT
AzOPT Goodyear Doctor of Physical Therapy
In Arizona, one of the best ways to stay cool during the summer is to head out to the pool. Did you know that swimming and aquatic therapy is also a great activity for pain relief and joint health?
It’s true! Water has two important properties that can assist you in returning to your prior level of function whether you are recovering from an injury or have been living with joint pain for years.
The first of which is buoyancy. Buoyancy is that feeling of weightlessness when you enter the water and are pulled upward. This aids in unloading the joints which improves your range of motion and alleviates some discomfort originating from that joint! Any joint that has gone through arthritic changes (knees, hips, shoulders…) will respond well to this principle as we are able to create a small amount of additional joint space. This allows us to improve the range of motion in that area.
The second, and equally important principle, is the hydrostatic pressure your body receives while submerged in the pool. This is the pressure being applied to the submerged parts of your body from the force of the water. This increased pressure assists with limiting or even decreasing swelling in the joints. It also can aid in venous return to the heart from the rest of the body as well as improve cardiovascular capacity which can be transferred over to land-based activities.
Now pool-based therapy isn’t for everyone. If you have resting high or low blood pressure, history of seizures or heart disease, suffer from feelings of lightheadedness or have any open cuts or wounds, please consult with your physician prior to beginning any pool-based therapy program.
If you are interested in finding out if aquatic therapy is right for you, please check with your physical therapist. AzOPT Buckeye’s newest facility will have a 300 square foot indoor, heated pool to treat patients in aquatic therapy.