I dread the thought of getting wet and smelling like chlorine. That was the first thing I thought when thinking about trying pool therapy for my musculoskeletal issues.
However, embracing the spirit of adventure and experimentation of my New Year’s Resolution, I went ahead and signed up for two pool therapy session.
Still, I couldn’t get the image of retirees wearing 1960s swim caps with flowers on the side out of my head…
What is Pool Therapy?
Pool therapy is evidence-based and the scientific practice of physical therapy in an aquatic environment by a physical therapist or physical therapist assistants. The therapy includes treatment, rehabilitation, prevention, health, wellness and fitness of the patient with or without extra devices or equipment. The aquatic environment enhances treatments for musculoskeletal, neuromuscular, cardiovascular or pulmonary, and integumentary (skin) diseases, disorders, or conditions.
How does it work?
Pool therapy is physiotherapy that is performed in the water.
It is effective because of buoyancy, resistance, hydrostatic pressure, and the warmth of the water.
- Buoyancy, the reason behind feeling lighter or bouncy in water, assists in supporting the weight of the patient. This reduces stress on the joints and is useful for conditions that make weight-bearing difficult. Some examples are bone fractures, sprains, and strains.
- Resistance from the water coupled with the water’s buoyancy provides the perfect way to strengthen muscle groups without the joint stress that exercise on land would cause.
- Hydrostatic pressure aka gravitational pressure, assists in improving proprioception or the sense of one’s body in space. This sense can become diminished after torn ligaments or joint sprains. The pressure also helps decrease swelling caused by injury or for those with arthritis.
- Temperature of the water, specifically the warmth of the water allows muscles to relax and increases blood flow to injured areas. This assists in healing and muscle pain. Conditions like fibromyalgia are particularly assisted by this aspect of aquatic therapy.
Moving Out of the 60s
Just as adjustable beds have gone from being used in hospitals to being modernized and adapted for a younger crowd, so has aquatic exercise.
There are now lots of different pool therapy options.
“I have not failed seven hundred times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those seven hundred ways will not work. When I have eliminated all the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work.”
-Thomas A. Edison
More on personalized prevention and achieving optimal wellness at SXSW 3/13/16 Hacking for Healing! I will be presenting along with JIYO, We Are Curious Inc, and HopeLab
Written With Tiffany Simms