Hydrotherapy – What it is & how it works

Hydrotherapy is a type of exercise therapy done in a heated pool. It has a wide range of benefits and is used to target and treat a variety of conditions. The use of gentle, controlled movements in warm water (heated up to 31-35 degrees) allows people to steadily progress their range of movement. It’s also a safe, comfortable and often enjoyable environment.

Who can benefit from hydrotherapy?

Hydrotherapy can be done at all ages, and suits all fitness types. The main focus is often to help improve mobility. It can be effective both before and after surgery as it allows people to complete movements that might otherwise be limited by disability and pain.

Hydrotherapy can help to manage a range of conditions, including:

  • general joint pain
  • lower back pain
  • orthopaedic conditions
  • neurological conditions
  • pain related to arthritis
  • sports injuries
  • fibromyalgia


What are the benefits of hydrotherapy?

It strengthens weak musculature – Hydrotherapy takes advantage of buoyancy, which is beneficial as it reduces stress on your joints, bones and muscles by reducing the weight-bearing load that goes through these structures. This means that the exercises performed in the water are more supported and less painful than on land. This is especially beneficial for those who find walking or weight bearing activities difficult on land due to the pain it causes.

It minimises aches and pains – The warmth of the water causes vasodilation in the blood vessels, which in turn improves circulation in the area of discomfort.

Improves general fitness – Exercising within a hydrotherapy pool can help increase physical fitness. As water density is greater than air density, your muscles need to work harder to overcome the resistance of moving in water. The amount of resistance you apply varies depending on water depth, speed and type of movement you are making.

It minimises impact on joints – There are advantages to buoyancy! If you normally find loading particular joints (such as knees or hips) painful, hydrotherapy might be perfect because it reduces the amount of gravity through the body.

Ready to try hydrotherapy?

Great! But make sure you chat to an expert. This is especially important if you’re living with chronic conditions like arthritis or are recovering from surgery. Seek advice from your local Exercise Physiologist to see if hydrotherapy is right for you. Click here to find an Accredited Exercise Physiologist near you!

Kitty Chao - accredited exercise physiologist