Pool therapy, or hydrotherapy, is an exercise program designed to be performed while an individual is submerged or buoyed in water. This form of physical therapy is particularly beneficial because it significantly decreases the stress placed on the neck and back that can occur with high-impact exercises. Gentle, low- or no-impact exercises are particularly beneficial for patients with osteoarthritis or other forms of spinal degeneration. Compared to land-based workouts, water reduces the pull of gravity and supports the body as it moves, which often makes water-based exercise far easier and less painful than other forms of exercise. Furthermore, the natural density of water adds a degree of resistance to any exercise that can greatly strengthen the muscles in the neck and back.
One of the best ways to overcome neck and back pain, whether caused by degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis or another form of degeneration, is with exercise. A carefully targeted exercise regimen strengthens the muscles that support the neck or back and can both reduce immediate back pain and decrease the likelihood of reoccurrence. Typically, hydrotherapy is conducted in a warm pool, which reduces tension and aches in the neck and back. Specific pool therapy techniques vary by individual and symptoms, but as a whole they strive to improve strength, blood flow, balance and overall physical health.
Some examples of therapy techniques include:
- Ai Chi – modeled after Tai Chi, the individual stands in chest-high water and performs a number of breathing and therapeutic movements
- Watsu – a type of massage therapy performed while lying in the water
- Bad Ragaz Ring Method – the individual is supported by floating rings and is instructed on a number of stretching and resistance techniques to strengthen the back
- Strength training – the individual completes a number of strengthening exercises that are made more effective by the water’s resistance
- Cardio exercise – similar to using a treadmill or other cardio machine, cardio exercises in the pool can be extremely effective for losing weight and improving heart health
- Halliwick Method – a pool therapy technique that teaches stabilization and balance and emphasizes proper spinal alignment
- And more
In the event that pool therapy does not sufficiently alleviate your neck or back pain, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn about treatment options, including our minimally invasive, outpatient spine procedures.