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How aquatic therapy is effective for injury rehabilitation

Updated: Mar 11, 2020

For centuries, water has been used for relaxation, recovery, and as a remedy for various ailments. While we now know that water isn’t a curative solution to a health condition, it can play a significant supportive role.


From laying in a hot bath after a long day and letting our muscles relax to improving our fitness by going for a swim, and everything in between, there are plenty of ways water can be used to help our bodies. When it comes to injury rehabilitation, we can use the dynamic properties of water to our advantage and help patients complete rehabilitation exercises more comfortably.


How aquatic therapy can help


By using aquatic therapy for injury rehabilitation, patients will find that they will have improved function, balance, coordination, and agility as they recover. Regular body mechanic movements become easier and they will become more confident during their recovery.


To help with injury rehabilitation, aquatic therapy helps increase circulation, respiratory rate, muscle metabolism, strength, and flexibility. Being in the water also relieves pressure on your joints, reducing pain, stress, and muscle tightness while you exercise.

Water can become an extremely effective tool throughout the injury rehabilitation process. The patient can move comfortably and confidently through the water while performing the exercises with assistance from their therapist. They receive a wide range of benefits from training in the water without causing further damage to their injury.


At Smart Rehab, our recovery specialists can assist you through your injury rehabilitation. If you are suffering from an injury and want to stay on the path to recovery, contact us today to start your assessment and to see if aquatic therapy is right for you.


What is aquatic therapy?


Aquatic therapy, otherwise known as hydrotherapy, is a type of physical rehabilitation that takes place in the water, usually a pool, and has a wide range of effects on the body. One of the most common reasons people undergo aquatic therapy is for injury rehabilitation. Along with a trained healthcare professional, patients are helped through various exercises while partially submerged in the water.


Because water helps stabilize patients throughout the exercise session and reduces strain on joints, they can complete the more exercises in the water than on land; this increases how quickly you can recover. The rehabilitation exercises the patient performs are determined by a trained therapist and are chosen based on your specific needs.

Overall fitness level, the type of injury, and other health conditions are taken into account when finding the most effective exercises for you. Because of the properties of water during aquatic therapy, you can expect to see improvements in: strength, flexibility, balance, and physical confidence as you recover from an injury.



Properties of water


Have you ever noticed that water seemingly holds you upright? It’s not your imagination. Due to gravity, water always flows to reach equilibrium, or balance. That means it is much easier to stand upright and perform exercises in water because water is exerting a force on the body from all directions. This is called hydrostatic pressure. Patients can comfortably perform entire exercises because the water is helping them stay balanced.

Another benefit to the hydrostatic pressure from water is the additional aerobic conditioning as well. Because the patient experiences pressure on all sides, it strengthens diaphragmatic breathing, pushing more oxygen to muscles and organs which will improve their overall fitness level over time.



All liquids are viscous — otherwise known as the thickness or stickiness. While the viscosity of water is low, meaning you can move through it quite easily, this dynamic fluid still provides consistent resistance during aquatic therapy exercises. When we exercise on land, we also experience resistance, air resistance, but it is typically much weaker than water. As a result, the patient receives additional strength training from the aquatic therapy exercises.


For those that are experiencing joint pain, whether it’s from an injury or other health condition, how our bodies float in water can relieve much of the tension on joints. In water, buoyancy reduces the effects of body weight by approximately 90% depending on muscle density, body fat percentage, and other factors. This lessens the compression force on our joints and gives patients much-needed relief while they perform rehabilitation exercises.


Exercises and equipment


There are a wide variety of aqua therapy techniques that have been developed over the years to handle different types of injuries. These can include varying difficulties of stretches, aqua jogging and walking, swimming, yoga, and more. To help everyone who suffers an injury stay on the path to recovery, it’s imperative that skilled therapists are able to adapt and develop programs to suit the needs of each patient.



As an injured person recovers, they can begin taking on more challenging rehabilitation exercises. Perhaps they began with walking in the pool and now they can go for an aqua jog.


To complement aquatic exercises, there is a wide range of therapy equipment that has been developed such as ankle and wrist weights, floating swim bars, support belts, walkers, and much more. The use of equipment is based on the type of injury and rehabilitation exercise program as well as the stage of recovery the patient is in.

If you suffered an injury and are looking for a recovery specialist to assist in your injury rehabilitation, be sure to contact us to start your assessment and help you stay on the path to recovery. Aquatic therapy may be the solution for you.

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