4 Pool Exercises to Help Improve Strength and Function

4 Wonderful Exercises To Do In The Pool

Written by April West with commentary from Mark McCoy, PT, DPT

As winter turns into spring more people are requesting aquatic therapy appointments, so I talked to owner and practicing physical therapist, Mark McCoy, PT, DPT to ask him for simple but wonderful aquatic therapy exercises. We keep our pools at 98 degrees, which is a temperature ideal for healing. Our therapy pools are in East Sacramento at our J Street facility and one across from Folsom Lake College in Folsom, California (pictured above).

The temperature of the pool is close to body temperature to allow conditioning for specific injuries. Aquatic Therapy increases patients’ strength and function without compromising back or joint dysfunction. It’s especially great for early movement after surgery, and for those who are partial or non-weight bearing.

Here are 4 wonderful exercises you can do in the pool:


Sounds simple right?! Your physical therapist would provide a plan to accomplish your specific goals, but to make this blog simple, we will start with walking forward, backwards and side to side. Keep in mind, you can mix up the speed, but listen to your body and only do what you can tolerate.

TIME: 5 minutes each direction


Standing at the edge of the pool, and holding on if needed begin working on squats

Reps: 20

Heel Raises

Again, at the edge of the pool, and holding on if needed, raise your heals up and back down

Reps: 20


Grab a pool noodle. Now with your back to the wall, hold the noodle out in front of you and pull down to your legs (while tightening your tummy). This exercise will help strengthen your core and feel amazing. Okay, okay, maybe not amazing in the moment, but a great feeling once you’re done!

Reps: 15 to 20

Now remember, the pool makes you more buoyant, so you’ll notice you can do more in the water than you can on land. Please remember your muscles might be sore afterwards, so be prepared for it. Never skip a physical therapy visits because you’re sore. Call or meet with your physical therapist and ask if you need to adjust your plan of care. Strength and conditioning exercises like the ones listed above can help you meet your fitness and your mobility goals!

Last, remember to show your body love by drinking plenty of water, and share your favorite pool exercises in the comments!

Performance Physical Therapy has four locations in the Sacramento region: Roseville, Rancho Cordova, Folsom and East Sacramento. To find out more about our services, staff and the culture at Performance Physical Therapy visit

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