Regular use of an aquatic therapy pool can make a big difference to many people's lives. If you have difficulty moving for any reason, or find normal exercise painful, aquatic exercise might be the only way to get your health back. For other people, it is just a more fun way of getting fit than land based exercises.
Which Groups Most benefit from Aquatic Therapy?
- People recovering from a sports injury
- People with limited mobility, especially arthritis sufferers, the obese,
- People with balance problems
- People with back problems
- The elderly
What are the Prices?
Many health providers offer aqautic therapy sessions, often availble on your medical insurance.
If you want to buy a pool for home use they start at around thirty thousand dollars. This site has basic info on swim spas and therapy pools: Swimming Spas.
The Benefits of Water
Aquatic therapy makes use of the buoyancy and natural resistance to movement that water offers. The buoyancy of water takes the weight off joints and muscles and allows movement of injured tissues in a natural way. As an example, anyone who has had recent hip or knee replacement surgery can have no better exercise than walking. At the same time trauma to the muscles near the operation site makes walking painful. Using the buoyancy of water and an underwater treadmill can provide the great benefit of walking as an exercise without undue pain and the without any fear of falling and further injury.
Similar benefits accrue to people who have suffered sports injuries,
The Benefits of Hot Water
Hot water eases muscle tensions and also promotes the relaxation of blood vessels. This in turn promotes increased blood flow to damaged tissues. The simple relaxant effect of hot water can improve joint mobility and make exercises that are otherwise impossible not just possible but enjoyable as well. A temperature of 95 degrees is ideal for the full benefits.
The Benefits of Deep Water
In order for a person to experience the full buoyancy benefits of water, people need to be immersed to the chest. Some exercises such as the use of an underwater treadmill or exercise bicycle require a minimum water depth of 48 inches with up to 60 inches for taller people. For some exercises, a full six feet of water is required as the person needs to float. If you are thinking of buying a swim spa or therapy pool always check water depths not just overall height of the pool.
Water Resistance and Water Currents
The natural resistance of water offers a gentle, non traumatic way of exercising and strengthening muscles. Sometimes this resistance to movement is exploited and enhanced by exercise equipment. If you use an underwater exercise bicycle, for example, you will be turning a paddle wheel in the water. The larger the paddle's surface area the harder you have to peddle to turn it. Sometimes water jets are used to increase the level of exercise. Walking into a water current on an underwater treadmill can significantly increase the effort involved and boost muscle strengthening.
The Problems of Using a Swimming Pool
Swimming pools can provide great exercise. A person can swim, perform aquatic exercise routines like poolates and use the whole range of underwater exercise equipment if water depths are suitable.
On the other hand, if you want a pool at home, a swimming pool is the most expensive option. Many swim spas can be used as aquatic therapy pools and will cost a fraction of the price of a swimming pool. Purpose made therapy pools often come from the same manufacturers as swim spas and are usually not much more expensive.
Both swim spas and purpose made aquatic therapy pools also take up a fraction of the space of swimming pool. Many therapy pools or swim spas will fit inside a home comfortably for year round use.
Heating a large pool to temperatures that are ideal for aquatic therapy (as opposed to aquatic exercise) is often prohibitively expensive year after year.
Purpose Made Aquatic Therapy Pools
Purpose made aquatic therapy pools can be very small indeed. The hydrophysico set up pictured above is tiny but since the exercise it offers is for a person in the vertical position, it is perfectly adequate. Filled to capacity, the hydrophysico provides great bouyancy.
A more average sized aquatic therapy pool would be one of the Hydroworx aeries. Hydroworx offer pools for use by hospitals and sports teams to complement physiotherapy. They also offer 2 pools for home use called the L-Series and T-series. The L-series has water jets to create a current and can be used as a swim spa.
One of the largest purpose made aquatic therapy pools on the market is the Swimex 1000-S. It is 14 feet by 10 feet wide. On one side of the pool a powerful water current is generated which allows for swimming in place exercises or aquatic therapy. In the still water half of the pool there are a variety of water depths that allow for different kinds of exercises and therapy.
Things to be Aware of if you looking for an Aquatic Therapy Pool
In ground therapy pools are often easier for people with limited mobility to use. Above ground pools have steps to negotiate, although special lifts can be found. A great advantage of above ground pools is that that they are easy to move to a new location. They are also cheaper to install. If you are using exercise machines you need a pool or swim spa with a robust shell that won't be punctured or damaged easily. You also need a pool with a big enough flat bottom area to site equipment securely.
Hydrotherapy article on Wikipedia with history and background