Healthy Living

Aquatic Therapy for Arthritis

Aquatic Therapy for Arthritis

Key Takeaways

  • Aquatic exercises are a great alternative for those who have arthritis, as it is not as painful as exercising out of water.

Arthritis is causes pain in an individual's joints. This pain is often aggravated by movement or activity. Therefore, some people with arthritis don’t want to move or exercise when they have arthritis or joint pain. It is understandable that movement and exercise could intensify the pain brought about by arthritis. However, exercise is beneficial for people suffering from arthritis. Exercise keeps the body healthy and in good shape.

coping with arthritis

Aquatic therapy, also called pool therapy or water exercise, is a good choice of exercise program for people with sore joints. It helps improve pain and function for people with arthritis.

Benefits of Aquatic Therapy

People with arthritis are unable to perform many land based exercising without the pain being aggravated. But when you exercise under water, where gravity is eliminated, it is very possible to improve strength, endurance, and flexibility.

The main goal of aquatic therapy is to retrain the muscles, bones, and joints to accommodate the effects of arthritis.

Through buoyancy, the water supports the body so that the joints don’t have to work hard compared when exercising on land. It counteracts gravity and supports the body’s weight when immersed. Buoyancy supports 90% of the body’s weight when the body is immersed to the neck level, while on waist level, buoyancy supports 50% of the body’s weight. In addition, water makes a natural resistance when the body is moved through it. Thus, the muscles would have to work out without the need of weights. Buoyancy helps with the development of strength and balance of the body and allows a greater range of motion.

Water has a viscosity property which gives 12 times more resistance than air that’s why exercising under water doesn’t put an impact on the joints. It allows conditioning and strengthening with less risk of acquiring an injury. It’s a better workout than exercising on land. Exercising on warm water or heated pool is also beneficial. It increases blood flow, relaxes the muscles and helps soothe sore joints. 

Aquatic exercises not only improve musculoskeletal pain, it also improves the function of the heart and improves circulation, which is essential for recovery and healing.

Some exercises you can do under water are:

Shoulder and Arms

• Raise your arms forward and up as high as you can. You can do one at a time or you could also raise both arms simultaneously.
• Raise your arms sideways until the level of your shoulders while keeping your elbows straight.
• Do arm circles. Bring both arms up and forward while keeping elbows straight. Keep them a few inches below the water then make circles with your arms.

Elbows

• Bend your elbows under water then straighten them again.

Hips and Knees

• Find a place on the pool where you can sit. Once seated, straighten one knee and move your leg out to the side. Return to your initial position afterwards.
• Raise one foot then straighten your knee. You could hold the position to intensify the movement.

Ankles and Toes

• Lift one foot from the pool’s surface then move your foot up and down. Do it with your other foot.
• Make circles using your ankles.
• Curl and straighten your toes.

These exercises can be repeated as long as you can. However, you need to gradually progress your exercise and don’t push yourself too much.  In conclusion, aquatic therapy is an exercise program which lessens the weight placed on the different joins of the body. In addition, aquatic therapy minimizes the risk of injury caused by unintended movements when exercising.