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What Is Aquatic Therapy?

Also known as pool therapy, aquatic therapy is an exercise program performed in water. It is a form of physical therapy that can treat a wide variety of orthopedic injuries and neurologic conditions while assisting in patient healing and improving exercise performance.

Benefits of Aquatic Therapy

Aquatic therapy has numerous therapeutic benefits. Performing exercises in the water can assist with the following:

  • Pain Relief: Aquatic therapy can decrease pain associated with arthritis, back issues, spinal disorders, sprains, strains, and tendonitis.

  • Injury Recovery: The water’s buoyancy reduces the amount of stress on a joint and decreases swelling, making it the ideal environment for patients healing from fractures.

  • Muscle Strengthing: The natural viscosity of water creates resistance while decreasing joint stress, which helps recovering or injured muscles regain their strength.

  • Increasing Blood Flow: Warm water can improve blood flow to injured areas. This can assist with fibromyalgia, muscle spasms, and back pain.

Patients who cannot perform exercises on land, whether because they are recovering from injury or have a chronic condition, can perform activities that help improve function, restore movement, and improve strength.

Aquatic therapy can also help patients progress in:

  • Endurance

  • Flexibility

  • Relaxation

  • Balance

  • Locomotion

It’s important to understand that aquatic therapy is not for everyone. Before beginning a program, always discuss a cardiac disease, bladder and bowel issues, and history of infections with your physical therapist.

Aquatic Therapy Exercises

Our physical therapists at Vail-Summit Physical Therapy tailor every therapy session to the individual. As such, no one exercise program fits all. However, most aquatic therapy exercise programs follow the structure below:

  • Warm-Up: Gentle, low-resistance exercises are performed to prepare the upper and lower extremities for exertion.

  • Advanced Exercises: These are more advanced cardiovascular activities that engage the core. Arm and leg swings, running, and squatting are a few examples of these exercises.

  • Cool-Down: This allows the heart rate and blood pressure to gradually return to normal while preventing lactic acid from building up.

Individual aquatic therapy exercises are varied and can be modified as your treatment progresses.

While aquatic therapy exercises can feel challenging, the overall effect and gains are not always equal to land-related activities. Clearly articulating your therapy goals will ensure physical therapist can set you up for success!

Aquatic Physical Therapy in Breckenridge, Colorado

Our team of expert physical therapists at Vail-Summit Physical Therapy will evaluate your abilities, understand your goals, and design a unique aquatic therapy program that’s right for you and your needs.

Contact our office and schedule your consultation today!


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