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Aquatic Therapy: Who can benefit from pool therapy?

Benefits of being in a pool:

  • Buoyancy of water causes an individual to feel lighter and float upwards

  • An individual who is unable to support their body weight on land is often able to walk with minimal support in the pool

  • Water supports weak muscles

  • Enhances flexibility due to warm pool temperatures

  • Enhances range of motion

  • Less fear of falling

  • Buoyance allows many difference exercises to be performed without or with minimal equipment

  • Decompresses joints such as the spine

  • Being submerged to the neck decreased weight bearing by ~90%

  • Water provides resistance for toning exercises

  • Can perform strengthening, endurance, and muscle re-education exercises by resisting water

  • Exercises that are too difficult on land are easier to perform under water

  • Resistance can be used to create progressions for patients at different levels, for example, increasing speed increases resistance and slowing down speed decreases resistance

  • Hydrostatic pressure decreases pain and edema

  • Water provides pressure throughout entire body that is submerged, providing similar effects of wearing compression stockings to decrease swelling

Almost every condition is appropriate for pool therapy as long as all incisions/surgical sites are fully healed! Knee replacements, herniated lumbar disc, pediatrics, are all appropriate!

Example exercises that can be done in the pool:

Cardiovascular exercises:

  • Swimming

  • Walking forwards, backwards, sideways in a regular pool or against the current in a lazy river

  • Running

  • Treading water


  • Squats (pictured)

  • Leg lifts (pictured)

  • Lat pull downs

  • Deltoid front raises

  • Tricep dips (pictured)

Happy Healing!

Maggie Nguyen PT, DPT



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