If you are dealing with back pain or discomfort, the vast majority of the time your spine specialist will suggest a combination of conservative care options to try and treat the problem without the need for surgery. Exercise or physical therapy is almost always included in a conservative care plan, but what if your back pain makes regular exercise too painful? For those individuals, or for anyone who wants to try a different type of exercise routine, aquatic therapy may prove immensely beneficial.
Why Water Therapy Works
What therapy is just like traditional physical therapy, except it occurs while you are partially submerged in water. Performing these routines in the water presents a couple of unique benefits over traditional therapy exercises performed on land.
1. Weight-Bearing Assistance – Water’s natural properties make it so a person feels like they weight less when they are in water. Buoyancy helps to counteract the natural effects of gravity, which is great for individuals with decreased bone density or balance issues who may have a tough time completing their exercise routine on land.
2. Muscle Resistance – Another unique feature of water is that it provides a lot more natural resistance to movement than air does on land. This hydrostatic pressure is felt when you try to move your extremities in water. This resistance can help to strengthen muscles just by performing some simple movements. The same movements above water would not provide nearly as much benefit.
3. Increased Mobility and Movement – Warm water helps your body relax and can actually help joints increase their range of motion. You can also perform some movements in the water that would be impossible for you to do on land, which will help strengthen structures that might otherwise be ignored.
4. Earlier Rehab – A lot of athletes who want to speed up their recovery time opt for water-based rehabilitation because it can generally allow them to start their rehab sooner. Partial weight bearing in the water allows damaged ligaments or tendons to ease into a physical therapy routine and build up stress levels more slowly.
5. Relaxation Properties – Finally, individuals who go through a water-based therapy routine usually find that they are more relaxed and look forward to rehab more than individuals who go through a traditional spinal therapy routine. The warm water feels good on the body, and the whole session feels less like a workout and more like a fun activity, which is helpful for both your mental and physical health.
Aquatic therapy is a great option for people who are dealing with a variety of spinal conditions, but ask your doctor if it would be right for you before beginning a routine, especially if you already underwent surgery and have a recovering incision site. Dr. Chang can help set you up with a water-based routine to tackle your back pain. Reach out to his clinic today.