Hydrotherapy, or water therapy is a well-known rehabilitation tool used for the treatment of a wide range of injuries, ailments and also the promotion of physical wellbeing. Water, more specifically, immersion in water for rehabilitation purposes has been carried out for hundreds of years and now forms an integral part of physiotherapy treatment.
How does it work?
Hydrotherapy pools are typically heated to 33-36 Celsius. Being within the water creates a sense of weightlessness, as the water counteracts the effects of gravity. The low-impact nature of hydrotherapy makes it ideal for treatment treatments for bone, joint, and muscle injuries. Movements that may prove difficult on land due to pain and discomfort are easier to perform within water due to the reduction of gravity on the body.
How can Hydrotherapy help?
There are a combination of elements that hydrotherapy provides to patients who use this treatment as part of their recovery:
Buoyancy – Weightlessness from immersion in water reduces pressure placed on joints, muscles, and ligaments by removing gravitational effects on the body. Exercising in water is much easier, which can help improve joint range of movement to be achieved.
Muscular relaxation – The warmth of the water provides a relaxing effect on muscles via reduction of nerve impulses to overactive muscles, easing painful spasms and tension.
Reduced pain levels – Both the warmth and immersion of the injured tissues within water stimulates skin receptors, reducing pain stimuli and discomfort by activating areas in the brain to help to “turn off” pains signals. The result is inhibition of pain receptors which alters our brain’s perception of pain allowing patient’s to move more freely within the water compared to on land.
Improved circulation – The warmth of the water allows for blood vessels to dilate near the skin’s surface. This allows for improved blood flow around the body, without vascular pressure and build up. With light – moderate exercise in water, this allows for increased circulation around the body with improved perfusion to muscles and tissues to assist in healing.
Decreasing swelling – The hydrostatic pressure (the force of fluid molecules pushing against your body within water) from the water improves swelling and oedema from both the surface and deeper within the joints when a limb is submerged in water. Reduced swelling equals reduced pressure exerted on the joints and tissues, which can reduce pain levels and discomfort for patients.
Reduced pressure on cardiovascular system – During water immersion, there is an increased blood supply to the heart. However as the vessels dilate there is less resistance in the circulatory system so blood pressure decreases. Ultimately this means there is less pressure on the cardiovascular system during activity and exercise in water.
Improved muscular strength – The hydrostatic pressure within the water can act as a resistance tool when performing exercises. This will increase the work of the muscles, thus improving overall strength.
Improves balance and stability – Although the water is a stable, protective environment, disturbance to the water molecules can make the environment less stable, therefore challenging and stimulating receptors (proprioceptors) in skin, tendons and ligaments tissues to help stabilise joints.
Our hydrotherapy service:
At Allen Physiotherapy we offer two locations for Hydrotherapy; Guildford & Teddington. Our Guildford Hydrotherapy service runs on a Thursday evening from 5.30-8.30pm and Teddington runs on a Sunday evening from 4.30-8pm. We have two qualified therapists who run the service; Lucy Eggleton & Mike Shepherd. Both therapists run the Guildford service, with Mike running the service in Teddington. Appointments are 30 minutes long and are on a one-to-one basis. There is also options to use both pools for independent hydrotherapy exercises once you complete your one-to-one session.
There are changing and showering facilities at both locations. There is a hoist for those unable to complete stair entry in/out of the pool. You are not expected to be able to swim to benefit from hydrotherapy as you will not be out of your depth. You may require use of flotation equipment to perform some exercises, but this will be provided. You will also receive a printed copy of your exercise program at the end of your session for your use at your local pool.
If you feel our Hydrotherapy service would benefit you with your recovery, then please contact our reception team on 01483 571783 to further discuss how we can help you with hydrotherapy.