What is hydrotherapy and how can it help me?

The popularity of hydrotherapy is growing and for very good reason, the benefits are profound. Accredited Exercise Physiologist, Jadi Lacco, dives into why this water activity has made such a splash and how it could be time for you to jump in (to hydrotherapy!)


Hydrotherapy (or aquatic exercise) can sometimes be overlooked or forgotten about, however the water provides an excellent and therapeutic environment for both exercise and rehabilitation and has numerous advantages over land based exercise.

Hydrotherapy can be beneficial for such a wide and varied range of acute and chronic health and musculoskeletal conditions; including but not limited to arthritis, post-surgery rehabilitation and back pain. It is a very safe, challenging and therapeutic environment for neurological conditions including Cerebral Palsy, Parkinson’s Disease and Muscular Dystrophy; as well as being popular in older populations (particularly those at a falls risk, you can’t fall over in the water!) and also for those who may be overweight or obese.

It is the properties of water itself that contribute to water based exercise being such a beneficial form of treatment for rehabilitation, as well as a therapeutic environment for exercise. Let’s look into some of these properties a little further and their implications on exercise:


Buoyancy is the opposite of gravity


The buoyancy of water reduces weight bearing stress on the body, which has advantages when rehabilitating from injury or

The popularity of hydrotherapy is growing and for very good reason, the benefits are profound.

The popularity of hydrotherapy is growing and for very good reason, the benefits are profound.

surgery, or exercising for overweight or obese populations. It allows for free and fluid movement without the load bearing strain which may be a limiting factor when exercising on land. Weight bearing can slowly be increased as needed by moving to shallower water.


More density means more resistance


Increased density of water compared with air increases resistance on the body when performing an exercise, creating an environment that can strengthen and tone muscles similar to working with weights on land. The faster the movement through the water, the more the resistance, making it an easy variable to manipulate to make those muscles work harder.


Strengthen your core (and improve your balance)


Turbulence creates an unstable environment, which makes the core muscles work hard to maintain balance and stability in the water. This makes the water a great environment for strengthening the core and stabilizing muscles and improving balance.


Improve circulation and relax muscles


Hydrotherapy pools are heated to 34 degrees. This increased temperature along with hydrostatic pressure of being in water is great for improving circulation and decreasing swelling. The comfortable water temperature contributes to the therapeutic benefits of moving in water, helping to promote relaxation of muscles and aid in pain relief.


How do I know if hydrotherapy is for me?


Like all forms of exercise, there are a range of contraindications and precautions to consider before undertaking a hydrotherapy program. Contraindications include, however are not limited to; recent heart attack, unstable heart conditions, skin/wound infections, uncontrolled epilepsy, uncontrolled diabetes, incontinence, fever or recent neurological event. Precautions include controlled epilepsy, pregnancy, early kidney disease and high or low blood pressure. As with any exercise program, it is best to discuss any health conditions or concerns with your doctor or treating allied health practitioner before commencing a program.

As summer is approaching there is no better time to dust off the swimwear and consider hydrotherapy as part of your regular exercise or rehabilitation program. Hydrotherapy pools are often (not always) quiet, private, enclosed and reserved for their purpose (hydrotherapy and rehabilitation) which can be reassuring if you are feeling self-conscious or embarrassed about the thought of getting in the water.


Top 4 tips to jump in (to hydrotherapy!)

  1. Speak to your doctor or treating practitioner before commencing and be sure to disclose any health conditions and medications.
  2. Keep your fluids up before, during and after hydrotherapy to avoid dehydration.
  3. Start light, slow and short and progress your program from there. You may be shocked at how tired you feel after your first session!
  4. Have an open mind, have fun and enjoy the water.


Blog-contributor-bottom-banner-Jadi-Lacco-1024x256Jadi is an Accredited Exercise Physiologist from Cairns with 7 years of experience in the profession. Currently working in private practise and specialising in the area of musculoskeletal rehabilitation and Pilates.

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