Hydrotherapy- what is it and what are the benefits?

Also known as aquatic therapy, hydrotherapy is a form of physiotherapy carried out in water. As water removes the weight, there are movements and exercises that can be practised in a pool easier than in general everyday life, even with the added resistance. Aqua aerobics is also a form of water exercise but is fitness based rather than for rehabilitation. These type of aerobics classes can be found at swimming pools across many gyms and fitness centres.

Hydrotherapy can promote wellbeing including healing, movement of joints and relaxation. Here we’ll take a look at it’s benefits and the differences between a hydrotherapy pool and a regular pool.

Benefits of hydrotherapy

Hydrotherapy is used to treat multiple conditions, many of which have traditionally been treated with physiotherapy. These include:

  • Pain – including back pain or joint pain following surgery
  • Muscle conditions – hydrotherapy is often used to help strengthen muscles
  • Poor circulation
  • Arthritis
  • Cardiovascular conditions
  • Neurological conditions
  • Poor posture and balance

This type of therapy can be carried out privately or prescribed by a doctor or surgeon under the NHS. A course of around six weeks is usually the standard treatment for a person to feel the benefits and have their condition improve, though some might last longer than this. It’s not a necessity to be able to swim but it might help if a person feels confident enough to be in the water for a length of time.

A therapist will accompany the individual in the water and guide them with movements and exercises suitable for their condition. This ensures safety from over-exertion and enables the person to get the most out of a session.

What is a hydrotherapy pool?

Therapy can be undertaken in a regular swimming pool but a specialised hydrotherapy pool will generally be a warmer temperature. Usually around 33-36 degrees, the warmer water allows for greater muscle relaxation and decreased pain which can help with the healing process. Another benefit of a specialised pool is that the temperature can be tailored to an individual and their needs.

A hydrotherapy pool is maintained in the same way a regular pool is, using chemicals such as chlorine granules and regular checks of water levels and temperature. Servicing is carried out at regular intervals to ensure safety and functionality.

If you’re interested in hydrotherapy, it’s important to choose a qualified therapist and undertake an initial assessment.