Hydrotherapy is the use of water in the treatment of arthritis and related rheumatic complaints. Hydrotherapy differs from swimming because it involves special exercises that you do in a warm-water pool. Unlike aquarobics, hydrotherapy focuses more on slow, controlled movements for therapeutic rather than cardiovascular results. The water temperature is usually 33–36ºC, which is warmer than a typical swimming pool. Gold standard research is supporting the use of hydrotherapy for arthritis and is an excellent way to exercise when your arthritis is moderate to severe.
Let’s look at why hydrotherapy works:
- The warmth of the water (usually about 33-36°) is used to relax tight muscles and loosen up stiff joints.
- The buoyancy of the water minimises the effect of gravity and decreases the stresses placed on joints during movement. People who are unable to support their body-weight on land are able to exercise more effectively in the water.
- The resistance provided by the water is used to modify exercise intensity. Water provides varied resistance to exercise depending on the speed of movement, and the shape of the body part being moved.
Next is where and how to do it. Some hydrotherapy pools offer a self referral based program, while other hospitals may need a referral from a doctor. Private Physiotherapy clinics, for a cost, run their own sessions.
Finally, your local Arthritis Office can provide further information to assist you and will have a range of education and support activities. Click here to find your local office.
Not so keen on going to a public place? Try these exercises at a warm local pool or if you are lucky enough to have your own pool then there really is no excuse! This video is also a helpful resource.