by Liz Vermeer, PT, DPT
Have you ever wanted to start being more active, but worried about the impact on your joints? There are many benefits of being active in the water, and that doesn’t mean you have to swim laps! Even performing standing and walking activities in the water can benefit you in a lot of ways. Our Kinetic Edge Physical Therapy team offers aquatic therapy at our Newton, Oskaloosa and Pella clinics and would be happy to help you see if water therapy might be right for you.
3 Big Benefits of Exercising in the Water
1. Your body is lighter in the water.
You might notice, when getting in the water, that you can feel less pressure on your back or your knees. The buoyancy of water creates a force that pushes back at you when you stand in the water, making the impact on your joints and low back less than standing on land. Standing in water that is the height of your waist decreases your body weight impact of the joints by 50%. Do you want some relief from that low back pain? Submerse yourself to shoulder height for a 90% decrease in body weight. This decrease in impact allows you to exercise longer in the water than you would be able to on land with fewer symptoms. But be careful – you might be pretty sore if you exercise for long periods in the water and your muscles aren’t used to the activity.
2. Water can help build strength in your muscles.
Have you ever tried to walk in water and noticed how challenging it is to get moving forward with any amount of speed? The resistance provided by the water not only requires increased muscle force to move, but challenges the control of the movement demanding a certain amount of stability of the extremity being used. As a result, you not only can improve your strength, but your balance can be enhanced as well!
3. Water can help with improving swelling.
After an injury or surgery, you will likely notice some amount swelling in the joint that was affected. Early mobilization of the affected joint, along with submersion in water can help get rid of swelling. Hydrostatic pressure of the water causes there to be more pressure at the bottom of the pool than there is at the top creating your very own compression sleeve without the annoying sock or sleeve. It can also explain why you have to pee more when you are in the water for any amount of time. Hydrostatic pressure associated with water also increases blood flow from the legs to the heart so if you have heart issues, it is important that you discuss aquatic therapy with your doctor before starting to see if your heart is strong enough for therapy.
Not sure if aquatic therapy might be beneficial for you? These are the most common types of people seen in the water at our Kinetic Edge Physical Therapy clinics in Newton, Oskaloosa and Pella:
- Individuals with chronic pain including fibromyalgia
- Individuals with low back pain or leg pain in which the impact of walking on land is limiting function and/or progress in therapy on land is slow due to significant pain
- Individuals with significant weakness
- Well-trained individuals who have had an injury that limits then from training on land, but don’t want to lose their current fitness level
If you are interested in water exercise, but aren’t sure if it is for you, schedule a free injury screen with your Kinetic Edge Physical Therapy staff.