Pool therapy, or hydrotherapy, is an exercise program designed to be performed while a person 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 help strengthen the muscles in the neck and back. 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.
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 program strengthens the muscles that support the neck or back and can both reduce immediate back pain and decrease the likelihood of reoccurrence.
Techniques for pool therapy
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 and bodywork therapy performed while lying in the water
- Bad Ragaz Ring Method — a person is supported by floating rings and is instructed on a number of stretching and resistance techniques to strengthen the back
- Strength training — involves a number of strengthening exercises that are made more effective by the water’s resistance
- Water aerobics — 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
Other treatments for neck or back pain
In the event that a full course of pool therapy in combination with a course of conservative treatment does not sufficiently relieve your neck or back pain, surgery can become an option. For people in this situation, Laser Spine Institute provides minimally invasive outpatient spine surgery as a safer and effective alternative to traditional open neck or back procedures.^ Contact us today to speak to a member of our caring team and learn more about our treatment options.
We will be happy to perform a free MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.