What is hydrotherapy?
Hydrotherapy – or aquatic physiotherapy – refers to a water-based exercise program delivered in a swimming pool or specific hydrotherapy pool.
It differs from swimming in that:
- Hydrotherapy aims to decrease pain, increase range of movement and flexibility, as well as develop muscle strength and general fitness.
- Hydrotherapy involves specific sets of exercises focusing on upper limbs, trunk, lower limbs and balance.
Why is hydrotherapy for seniors beneficial?
The warmth of the water allows your muscles to relax and can help relieve joint pain. This helps you to exercise and move with more ease. Movement in water is also considered a relaxing and gentle way to exercise.
Water can be used to provide resistance when moving. Your muscles will become stronger by pushing your arms and legs against the water. The amount of resistance you push against can be modified with the use of pool equipment, such as noodles and foam boards.
- Aids stiff joints and arthritis
The buoyancy of the water lowers the impact on weight-bearing joints, which helps relieve pain and increases the range of motion in the joint. This is particularly useful for people with arthritis, where weight-bearing exercise on land can be painful.
- Improves overall fitness
Exercising in water can increase overall fitness, and can be particularly helpful for people living with chronic lung and heart disease. Hydrotherapy improves circulation around the body to help you absorb more oxygen.
- Preventing dementia
Up to 20% of people aged from 70-90 develop mild cognitive impairments worldwide. About 15% of that group will go on to develop dementia each year.
Several studies have found increased physical activity lowers risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and obesity, all of which are risk factors for dementia. Getting active in the pool is a great way to increase physical activity.
What if I can’t swim?
You don’t have to be able to swim to benefit from hydrotherapy. The pool is generally quite shallow (about chest height), so you can exercise comfortably. Attending an aqua physio/hydrotherapy class with The Physio Co means you’ll be looked after by a qualified physiotherapist.
What do I need to bring?
– A towel
– Your usual medication (inhaler, GTN spray or glucose tablets, etc).
Speak to The Physio Co today for more information. If you feel land-based exercise is not for you, then getting in the water might be the solution you need to keep active!
Written by: Di Liu (physiotherapist)