If you have joint pain, chances are that hydrotherapy is going to be a huge help to you.
A hydrotherapy pool is a warm water pool for doing exercises. Its quite different from swimming laps, although a lot of people find that swimming can be helpful too, if its not painful to do it. Can’t swim? It doesn’t matter, a hydrotherapy pool is usually quite shallow, it usually doesn’t have a “deep end” where you can’t touch the bottom.
Our local hydrotherapy pool is at Knox Leisureworks in Boronia. The centre has a lot to offer, actually. There is the hydrotherapy pool, as well as a kids pool, a regular lap pool, a spa and sauna, and an onsite gym.
So why is Hydrotherapy such a great option?
Buoyancy – Being in the water takes the pressure off the joint due to the water supporting your body weight. This makes it a great option for weight bearing joints like hips, knees and ankles, especially following injuries or surgeries like hip and knee replacements or fractured bones.
Warmth – Heated hydrotherapy pools allow muscles to stay warm and relaxed while exercising. Typically a hydrotherapy pool is heated to about 33*, warmer than a normal swimming pool.
Low Impact – Unlike running, doing exercises in water is friendly on vulnerable joints. The water doesn’t allow you to move as fast as in air, so the force of impact is less than running or jogging on a hard surface.
Resistance – The water provides great resistance for strengthening the body, without feeling painful. It can be tiring afterwards due to the resistance of the water, though, so starting with short sessions is best.
Low Cost – Knox Leisureworks has a great hydrotherapy pool. You can access the hydro pool with your standard pool entry fee of around $8, or if you plan to go frequently they have multi visit passes or memberships.
What kinds of pains or conditions does it work well for?
Hydrotherapy is fantastic for helping with pain in big joints and weight bearing joints, like hips, knees and ankles. Lower back pain can respond very well to hydrotherapy because of the way the water helps take pressure off the spine and support the weight of the body while you move. It can also be great for things like arthritis, and rehabilitation after a fracture or surgical repair.
It can be great for general fitness, too!
How do you get started?
Initially just walking through the water can be really helpful. You can also include day to day movements like bending and straightening your knee or hip while standing with you back against the pool wall for support. You can use a floating board or pool noodle to hold onto and do gentle squats or lunges.
If you’re uncertain, talk to us about specific pool exercises at your next appointment and we can help create a program tailored for you.
Mel is a Myotherapist based in Ferntree Gully.