You may have come across the term hydrotherapy about physiotherapyor exercise being discussed by either someone who has undergone hydrotherapy or your physician/physiotherapist, and wondered if it might be the right approach for you or a loved one. Hydrotherapy refers to physiotherapy or supervised exerciseconducted in a warm water/heated pool with temperatures ranging between 30-36 degrees Celsius. Pools are usually located indoors to facilitate temperature and air control and are conducted by trained hydro-therapists.
Another question that gets asked often is which form of physiotherapy is better – water-based hydrotherapy or land-based physiotherapy. The answer lies in your specific therapy requirement, your physician or physiotherapist’s recommendation and your level of comfort and convenience. As physiotherapy Geelong will tell you, one form is not necessarily better than the other.
Hydrotherapy is gaining popularity and wider acceptance because it offers a non-weight-bearing form of exercise/therapycoupled with the relaxation of warm water. Because this combination provides better movement and relaxation of the body and mind, it is recommended for both general fitness and rehabilitation.
Hydrotherapy offers several benefits over traditional physiotherapy which make it suitable for those seeking a low-intensity rehabilitation or exercise programme.
Buoyancy: hydrotherapy is popular because of buoyancy. Exercising in water provides relief from pain by relieving the pressure on joints. Mobility is increased because pain and pressure on joints are taken out of the equation. Most people who find it difficult to exercise a full range of motion or find it difficult to move adequately due to pain on land-based therapy programmes do very well in water due to buoyancy.
Turbulence:the movement of water resulting from water jets within the pool, your movement, or those around you is used to the advantage of the patient. Water turbulence is used to provide resistance – the greater the turbulence, the greater the resistance. Because water turbulence is not uniform the resistance it provides is variable, which in turn challenges the patient to work with their strength and balancedifferently every time.
Temperature:water temperature which is maintained between 30-36 degrees Celsius is an important factor in hydrotherapy. The warm water induces a feeling of relaxation in the patient and helps to minimise muscle spasms. It also helps with blood circulation and the reduction of muscle and joint pain.
Hydrostatic pressure: hydrostatic pressure is what you feel when you dive to the bottom of a pool. This water pressure is known to help alleviate body pains and aches. The pressure that is exerted on the body at different depths varies and can be adjusted to suit the needs of the patients. Many opt to stand at about shoulder level or chest level in the pool allowing them enough control.
Common concerns: some patients who are either inexperienced swimmers or have restricted mobility or have issues with balance fear getting in the pool. Hydrotherapy pools have various forms of entry to the pool built in, including a gradual entry point if you are in a wheelchair.