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Relieving Back Pain with Aquatic Therapy

Back pain, whether temporary or chronic, can have lasting effects on one’s overall health and well-being. It can be debilitating, causing stooped shoulders and poor posture. This — in turn — can affect everything from the digestive system to one’s confidence and sense of self.

Aquatic Therapy

Many exercises are available for those out there who are experiencing chronic — or temporary — back pain. The key is to find and unlock the perfect exercises that work for the specific situation. This, of course, depends entirely on the individual and his or her own needs.

However, one option which has been proven to be beneficial in many cases is aquatic therapy.

What Is Aquatic Therapy?

Aquatic therapy, or water therapy, is physical therapy that uses water resistance and a series of underwater exercises to strengthen the body. Aquatic therapy generally works well for those who suffer from joint pain and may even be beneficial for those with conditions like fibromyalgia or arthritis.

As aquatic therapy is often chosen because of its low-impact, it can be beneficial for strengthening core muscle groups like that of the abdominal group and gluteus maximus.

The Science Behind Aquatic Therapy

Aquatic therapy is an effective rehabilitation solution due to the weightlessness water provides. This allows for low-impact, strengthening exercises that are gentle on the bones while improving muscle performance.

A study performed by the Kyoritsu Hospital in collaboration with the University of Tokyo and Kurume University School of Medicine showed that out of 35 aquatic therapy participants with low back pain, over 90% felt they truly benefitted from the program after 6 months.

Another case study from HydroWorx talks about the life of a specific individual, Nancy, who saw huge improvements during her time in the pool. Nancy suffered from back pain and had a laminectomy — a procedure that helps relieve pressure on the spinal cord — that was successful for a time, but it wasn’t a permanent solution. Nancy’s doctor turned to physical therapy in the pool.

Nancy was able to manage and improve her back pain by participating in aquatic therapy. There was such a difference for Nancy in how she felt that she came back to do more exercises even after her program was complete. The benefits of the water therapy were very clear to her: They helped her overcome her chronic pain.

The Exercises

Depending on the injury or abilities of the individual seeking the therapy, a series of exercises may be chosen and customized by a licensed professional for the rehabilitation process. These exercises may include a combination of movements like these:

  • Walking
  • Jogging
  • Running
  • Stretches
  • Biking
  • Arm exercises
  • Holding an object or using webbed gloves while moving through the water
  • Swimming
  • Squats
  • Movements from ballet

Many exercises that are done outside of the pool can be adapted to be done inside of it.

Who Can Use Aquatic Therapy?

There are many different individuals with a variety needs who can use water therapy. For those who just want to increase their flexibility regardless of any potential health issues, aquatic therapy is perfect in its ability to provide gentle support.

Aquatic therapy is also great for those who are experiencing degenerative bone and joint pain, as the water will create weightlessness that allows those individuals to move more freely.

It’s also incredibly beneficial for those with sports injuries, being a favorite among athletes and trainers.

Maximizing the Aquatic Therapy Workout

There are several ways to go about a water workout, but the bottom line is you need to do what works for you.

The pace of the workout depends on the individual and his or her fitness journey. For those who want to maximize their workout, here are a few tips to help build up the intensity:

  • Create more resistance by working more quickly. Complete the exercises in full rotation, just at a higher speed. For example, walking in the water can go to jogging and jogging to running. The deeper the surrounding water is, the more intense the workout.
  • Use devices that help you float to create more resistance, or try wearing webbed water gloves while pumping the arms during a walk or jog.
  • Be safe while doing the exercises by creating more traction on the floor of the pool. This can be done by simply wearing water shoes or even old sneakers.

Aquatic therapy is a great way to strengthen muscles and help relieve back pain. Always seek the assistance and recommendations of a doctor or licensed professional before beginning any fitness regimen.

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