Water Exercise Can Reduce Pressure on Aching Joints.
The water still gives gentle resistance to help build strength. Plus, there’s no risk of falling, so it’s good if you have balance problems. The warm water itself can soothe pain and relax your whole body.
Conditions: Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid arthritis, Migraine, Back Pain, Neck Pain, Fibromyalgia, Nerve Pain, Undiagnosed
Symptoms: reduced joint movement, stiffness, stiff joint, swollen joint, muscle loss, muscle weakness, pain with movement, all over pain, ankle pain, arm pain, buttock pain, foot pain, hand pain, hip pain, knee pain, leg pain, lower back pain, neck pain, shin pain, spine pain, thigh pain, upper back pain, pelvic pain, pinched nerve, tenderness, dizziness, muscle pain, joint pain, anxiety, depression
Triggers: excess activity, exercising, repetitive motions, sports injury, inactivity, not exercising, injury, stress, putting weight on joint, overuse
Water exercise goes by many names — aqua or pool therapy, water walking, or water aerobics. Some water programs are for people with specific conditions, such as arthritis or fibromyalgia.
You may do aqua therapy in a shallow lap pool or in deep water, using noodles or other flotation devices. In deep water, there is even less pressure on hips, knees, and feet.
Experts have adapted exercises to the water — such as water Pilates, yoga, and ai chi, which uses some of the principles of tai chi.
Just 2 Feet — or 4
Classes don’t appeal to you? Simply walk in the shallow end, making sure you plant your whole foot — not just your toes — on the bottom. If you have any foot issues or a condition such as diabetes, be sure to wear pool shoes. You can also walk in the deep end, using a flotation device. Use your abs to stay upright. Be sure to walk backwards and sideways, too.
Or ask a physical to create a customized water exercise plan. You can try out new stretches and exercises in the pool — where they’re safer and less likely to cause pain — before doing them on land.
Just getting started with aqua therapy? Follow these suggestions.
* Give yourself a few minutes to get used to the water before you start exercising.
* Wear pool shoes if you have any foot issues or have a condition such as diabetes.
* Go slowly. Begin with just 10-15 minutes of exercise. As you get stronger, increase workouts by 5 minute intervals.
* Use gentle movements — don’t push too hard.
* If using water weights, start them in deeper water where you’re more buoyant — it will be easier on your muscles and joints. As you build up strength, shift into shallower water and move a little faster.
Aqua Therapy Safety
Check with your doctor or physical therapist before you try aqua therapy. It’s not for everyone. If you have a fever or an infection, warm water may worsen the condition as well as expose others to illness. Aqua therapy for those with certain heart conditions or with incontinence may be harmful or embarrassing. Since warm temperatures can be a problem for people with MS, if you have MS, you may need to exercise in cooler water.
People with osteoporosis — a condition that causes weakening of the bones — may need other exercises outside the water as well to improve their bone density.
One risk of aqua therapy comes before and after your workout — when you’re on the slippery area around the pool. It can be a problem if chronic pain — or your medication — makes you unsteady on your feet.
Transitioning from water to dry land can be an issue with balance and stability. Sit on a poolside chair if you feel unstable, and then hold on to the back of the chair and walk in place for 30 seconds before going on you way.
Consider wearing water shoes to help prevent slips. Having a rubber pad by the side of the pool to step on when you’re getting in or out could also help.
Drink in the Water
Bring water with you to drink while you’re exercising in the water. Even though you’re wet, you can still get dehydrated.