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Wednesday Water Drop Wonders

June 17, 2020

So….what exactly is Aquatic Therapy, what does it do, and how can it help me?

In general, Aquatic Therapy is an excellent tool and resource under skilled physical therapy. We can help you address a variety of diagnoses to help you get moving in the water in a safe and enjoyable manner. Oftentimes, when it can be too difficult or painful for you to exercise on land, aquatic therapy can be an alternate resource to help you move forward in your rehabilitation in a more comfortable manner.

Aquatic therapy can both compliment and/or be used as an alternative to traditional land-based therapy and can address a variety of diagnoses or issues such as:

  • Weight bearing limitations
  • Mobility issues
  • Balance and coordination
  • Pain
  • Increased tone or tension in the muscles
  • Decreased endurance
  • Postural deficits
  • Inability to tolerate land therapy

How is it different from swimming or water aerobics?
Aquatic therapy is designed to be incorporated in a physical medicine and rehabilitation environment as per your Physician’s orders, your diagnosis, and your treatment goals. This will be based upon your initial evaluation on land with your Doctor of Physical Therapy, your own individual needs, and your goals, and will be directly supervised by your Physical Therapist.Aquatic therapy is not swimming, nor is it water aerobics. It is a guided skilled clinical exercise program specifically designed to meet your individual needs and rehabilitation goals.

How does Aquatic Therapy work?
The biggest benefit of aquatic therapy is that there are several ways in which the water can help your body during your rehabilitation journey. There is minimal gravity in the water as opposed to land, which lessens pain and allows for gentle movement. When you are injured, disabled, or otherwise unable to comfortably or safely perform your exercises on land, you can easily perform your exercises in the water using various equipment, various depths, and various exercise protocols appropriate for you.Exercises under immersion can include a variety of exercises based on your diagnosis and goals including:

  • General Strengthening Exercises
  • Balance and Gait Training
  • Spinal Decompression
  • Stabilizing Exercises
  • Cardiovascular Training
  • Improved Range of Motion and Movement
  • Reduction of Chronic Pain

What is the science behind Aquatic Therapy?
Aquatic Therapy relies on several unique properties of water to enhance your rehabilitation goals in a safe environment to help you exercise more efficiently and safely.There are many varied properties of water that can help you underwater, with the two most important being buoyancy and hydrostatic pressure.

  • Buoyancy is nature’s system to support your body weight, which can reduce your pain and sensitivity. You can be unloaded in the water anywhere from 10% to 100%, depending on the level of the water and your comfort. Buoyancy reduces gravity by applying an upward force on your body, which pushes everything up and decreases your weight bearing, pain, and swelling. Buoyancy can also provide an increased level of confidence in regards to balance training and gait mechanics, as you can challenge yourself in a safe environment with less fear of falling.
  • Hydrostatic pressure is another important property of the water as it creates equal pressure on your body. This can effectively reduce swelling in your low back or joints, as water acts as a compressive device when that body part or joint is submerged. Hydrostatic pressure can also help to challenge your cardiovascular system. When you are in deeper water, the hydrostatic pressure applies constant resistance to the chest wall, thus challenging the cardiovascular system and increasing your heart rate to improve cardiovascular output along with an improvement in your blood flow.

Bottom Line
Aquatic Therapy is a wonderful resource and intervention designed to improve function, balance and coordination, flexibility, aerobic capacity, and endurance in a pain-free environment. People of all ages can and do benefit from Aquatic Therapy.

Water and Sports Physical Therapy implements various protocols individualized to your specific diagnosis, needs, and goals. We also offer a specialty involving the  Burdenko Method, which entails an integrated water and land-based approach. This unique program specifically focuses on speed, agility, strength, balance, and endurance in a cross-training format.

As your aquatic therapy evolves and your condition improves, you can progress to functionally appropriate land-based exercises.

Stay tuned for more educational ‘Water Drop Wednesdays’ and Water Wisdom from Water & Sports Physical Therapy!

Hop on in, the water is great!

About Water & Sports Physical Therapy

Water & Sports Physical Therapy is the only practice is San Diego that has our patented, state of the art, 3D infrared analysis system, which allows our doctors to identify strengths and weaknesses, develop a comprehensive and unique rehab program for each patient, assist with injury prevention and help improve sports performance.

If you are interested in receiving a FREE infrared analysis with your one hour evaluation covered by your insurance, please call 858-488-3597 or email We have 8 convenient locations all over San Diego to assist with your healthcare!

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