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Make a splash with aquatic rehabilitation!

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Aging joints? Sports injury?  Yet, you still want and need to exercise.

After a joint injury, a patient of mine recently began exercising in his community pool. He feels that the aquatic exercises complement his skilled physical therapy on land, and he is correct!  There are four benefits of aquatic rehabilitation: buoyancy, hydrostatic pressure, resistance, and sensory stimulation.

image Buoyancy: Get into your pool so that the water is at shoulder level.  Do you feel lighter? You should, for you now weigh approximately 90% less than before you entered the pool!!  You can exercise with the water at your shoulders, or you can move into more shallow water. Either way you are decreasing the load on your joints, and getting a good workout at the same time.

Hydrostatic pressure: This is the pressure exerted on your body while immersed in the water.  This pressure is equal on all surfaces, and it tends to decrease swelling and increase blood flow to your muscles. This is especially beneficial following knee surgery!

Resistance:  The resistance of the water is variable and will aid in increased muscle strength andimage tone.  Exercising in the water requires co-contraction of the abdominal and back muscles leading to increased trunk stabilization on land. This will help improve balance and coordination too!

Sensory Stimulation: The feeling of the water has two major benefits, Awareness and Relaxation.  77-98.6 degrees is the optimal range with cooler temperatures used for high intensity workouts while warmer temperatures will help enhance mobility, flexibility, and relaxation.

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Contributed by Kerri Krieger, DPT . Kerri is employed at the West Palm Beach Physical Therapy Center .

Original author: Nancy Whelan, PT
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