Experiencing a physical injury that requires a long period of recovery is a huge challenge. You might need a lot of physical therapy, which is hard work and can take months or even years. And as well as the physical effort, recovering from such an injury can take a toll on your mental health. Anything that can help you recover physically and help you deal with your recovery mentally is a great gift. A lot of physiotherapy involves gentle stretching and low-impact exercise. One activity that can be great for recovery is swimming or doing other sports in the water. The water helps to support your weight and make movement less strenuous. If you or someone you know is recovering from an injury, consider these benefits of aquatic therapy to aid their recovery.
Supporting Your Weight
Patients who have trouble with activities where they need to bear a lot of their weight can benefit from therapy in water. These people might include people with arthritis, a recent fracture, sprain or strain, or perhaps people who are overweight. When you exercise in the water, the water supports your weight to help you feel lighter and make movements easier. In fact, being in the water gives you a sensation almost like being in free-fall (what a lot of people mistakenly call zero gravity). For example, a 200lb person weighs only 100lb in waist-deep water and just 20lb in water at shoulder-height.
Increased Blood Flow
Exercising in water causes increased vasodilation (widening) of the blood vessels. Wider blood vessels results in improved blood flow to the injury site, which aids faster recovery. The injury site receives more oxygen and nutrients, while the removal of waste product increases too. All of these factors together help to promote healing and a better recovery. Blood circulation also improves due to the hydrostatic pressure of the water. The pressure helps to reduce swelling in the lower extremities.
The added resistance of the water is excellent for helping patients to build their strength and flexibility. The resistance of water is much greater than air, and while this sounds like it might be a bad thing, it isn’t. When a patient is submerged in water, they have stronger muscle contractions. But the water helps to take the pressure off their joints. At the rehabilitation Centennial CO center, therapists use underwater treadmills. Treadmills help to improve strength and balance while walking underwater.
Benefits of Warm Water
Usually, patients have aquatic therapy in warm water. The temperature of the water can also have a beneficial effect to someone with an injury. The heat from the water can help to soothe aching muscles and joints, as well as improve blood circulation. If you experience back pain or muscle spasms, the heat from the water can help you.
Aquatic therapy is great for all kinds of physical recovery. You might have sustained a sports injury, have arthritis or another joint problem or you might have had a stroke. Aquatic therapy can help you improve your range of motion. And even if you haven’t experienced an injury, swimming and exercising in water are good for your health.