Hydrotherapy is a mode of exercise that can be an effective therapy for a variety of conditions including musculoskeletal injuries, chronic pain, arthritis, neurological conditions, and many more. The term hydrotherapy essentially means exercise or movement in water, and the physical properties of being in water is exploited to aid in recovery. Here are some of the key elements of hydrotherapy…
- Water buoyancy. Being submersed in water effectively creates an anti-gravity environment for your body, so the weight of your body through joints and limbs is reduced. It can reduce strain on body parts, particularly the back and lower limbs, and can be a helpful stepping stone when exercising out of water is just too much
- Water resistance. The viscous nature of water produces drag forces when something moves through it. This means you can create resistance in any direction and adjust the force against you just by changing the speed. The faster you go and the harder you work. Surface area can also increase the resistance of water, for example using an open palm to push or equipment such as pool noodles and kickboards.
- Hydrostatic pressure. Water, particularly at depths, acts like a compression bandage. This is great for oedema control and joint swelling, and can also promote venous return for cardiovascular health and lactic acid redelivery. Pressure on the chest cavity also creates a training effect for respirator muscles therefore enhancing breathing capacity
- Water temperature. Heat applied to the body increases blood flow to the extremities and muscles. Warm water, weather in a hot shower or pool, does the same. The increased blood flow relaxes muscles and reduces muscle spasm and tension.
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