The Benefits of Hydrotherapy

Water has analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and relaxing properties. In this interesting article, discover the benefits of hydrotherapy for rehabilitation.
The Benefits of Hydrotherapy

Last update: 23 December, 2020

Hydrotherapy has become another therapeutic tool in medical professionals’ belts to treat their patients. The benefits of hydrotherapy are evident and important for different types of conditions.

Below, we’ll explain exactly what this technique is, as well as its most important benefits. This way, if you suffer from an injury that this alternative could help you to heal, you’ll know what to expect.

What’s hydrotherapy?

As its name suggests, hydrotherapy uses water as a means of rehabilitation. Specifically, the patient goes inside a pool and does various exercises and movements there, depending on the condition they suffer from.

As your body is submerged in water, the first thing you must take into account to understand the benefits of hydrotherapy are the conditions of working in this environment.

Firstly, the water temperature is important. It should be comfortable for the patient, ideally neither too cold nor too hot. Thus, it’s best for it to be warm.

On the other hand, hydrostatic pressure, which is the pressure or force that water exerts on all the submerged body parts, also plays a role.

Likewise, the effect of weightlessness is essential. We all know that people float in water. Thus, part of the action of gravity is eliminated, and the pressure applied to the joints and other structures are reduced.

There are other forms of hydrotherapy as well, such as showers or jets. In these cases, the water acts on a specific area. You can do so by applying warm water, which produces relaxation, or taking cold or hot showers to favor circulation.

Nevertheless, below, we’re going to talk about the benefits of the type of hydrotherapy that’s based on submerging a large part of the body in water, as a study in the journal Physiotherapy states. When we explain them, you’ll realize this is a really convenient method.

An old woman swimming in a pool.

The benefits of hydrotherapy

We already detailed the type of hydrotherapy we’re going to talk about. We also already explained the conditions it can help to treat. Therefore, you’re now going to see the positive effects these benefits can have on a patient’s rehabilitation.

First of all, we must talk about water temperature. Having the body at a suitable temperature favors muscle elasticity and relaxation. Therefore, the first benefit is that it helps the muscles to maintain a good working condition.

The second point is hydrostatic pressure. This phenomenon “applies” a kind of small massage on the cells. As people move, the amount of pressure on the different muscular structures varies, massaging them in different ways. This effect also helps reduce inflammation and reabsorb or heal bruises.

The third benefit is water’s resistance to movement. This resistance allows people to work large muscle groups by simply walking in it. Whenever you make any movement in the water, you make more of an effort than you would on land. For example, when you’re swimming.

The fourth benefit is the fact that a health professional can help the patient on all levels. In other words, they can offer resistance from below, above, behind, or on a specific limb, among other alternatives.

In the pool, it’ll be easier for a professional to move around the patient and do their job. Furthermore, if relaxation is what you’re looking for, in some hydrotherapy techniques, the professional holds the patient below the knees and below the neck and moves them rhythmically from side to side.

Weightlessness

We decided to talk about this point in a separate section, since it has its ups and downs. Essentially, the weightlessness of water means that you don’t put any pressure on the joints nor do you have to make an effort to stay upright or maintain a good posture.

A woman doing hydrotherapy.

This is generally positive when it comes to recovering from a traumatic injury, as you must train the muscles before bearing weight. Water is perfect for this, as you can do both active and passive range of motion without compromising the joint.

However, the pressure you’re normally subjected to is what makes the joint capsules work, renews synovial fluid, reabsorbs old bone cells (osteoblasts), and creates new ones. In other words, a whole group of elements aren’t worked in the water.

Therefore, if the injury you suffered from didn’t affect the joints and you want to go back to your normal life as soon as possible, the specialist may opt for other alternatives instead of hydrotherapy.

Benefits of hydrotherapy: an effective method

All that being said, you can probably see that hydrotherapy has five great benefits. As a study published in the journal Naturopathic Medicine explains, if you’ve had knee or hip surgery or have spinal cord compression problems, doing some rehabilitation exercises in the water can help you in many ways.

In short, if a physical therapy professional considers this a good option for you, don’t hesitate to try it out. Hydrotherapy will definitely be one of the best parts of rehab!

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