everybody in the pool

Aquatic therapy, sometimes called hydrotherapy, water aerobics or pool therapy, is an exercise program performed in water for relaxation, fitness, physical rehabilitation, and other therapeutic benefit. In its simplest form—a warm shower or a relaxing soak in a hot tub with jets—aquatic therapy helps relieve back pain, muscle spasms, joint pain and stiffness, and can soothe anxiety and relieve stress.

When delivered by a trained practitioner, aquatic therapy can help ease or improve a variety of ailments and disorders, ranging from a pulled muscle to a chronic disease. People with osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, peripheral neuropathy, and other conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis, can also benefit from water-based exercise.

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The nature of water itself can provide many benefits. Water’s buoyancy helps relieve stress on weight-bearing joints, while its viscosity creates resistance that can offer low-impact cardio as well as strength training to build muscle. Temperature matters, too. Warm water helps relax muscles, ease pain, and improve circulation and range of motion. Cooler water helps reduce inflammation and swelling. Water slows you down, so you can exercise safely and improve balance—all with little or no pain or side effects.

For do-it-yourself water therapy, many gyms and health clubs offer water workout classes as well as jetted spa pools for simply relaxing, but the benefits of professionally guided aquatic therapy go much further. As with physical therapy, the aquatic therapist will design a program targeted to a client’s needs—working one-on-one through a series of exercises in a temperature-controlled environment, in a variety of settings: rehabilitation centers, physical therapy practices, and as solo practitioners. .

Always talk to your healthcare provider before starting a new physical activity or resuming one after surgery. Choose your therapeutic professional wisely by seeking out a reputable clinic and a licensed provider recommended by the Aquatic Exercise Association and certified by the Aquatic Therapy and Rehab Institute..

A final caveat: public-use pools, tanks or tubs can increase your risk of infection. Talk to your doctor if you notice any swelling, discoloration or rash after undergoing water therapy, or if you experience new or worsening pain.

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