Water Therapy Exercises for Pain Management

Source: Spine Health

Water therapy is a collection of exercises and treatments done in a swimming pool. These programs have been designed to provide relief for neck and back pain. It can also condition and strengthen muscles to avoid back pain in the future.

Such a program is helpful when a land-based exercise program is not feasible due to disability, the intensity of pain, and decreased bone density. It is ideal for individuals with:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Advanced osteoporosis
  • Muscle strain
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure


Water’s physical properties make it a desirable medium for exercising.

Buoyancy: this supports the individual’s weight thus improving strength and balance.

Viscosity: this strengthens and conditions while reducing further risk of injury

Hydrostatic pressure: this maintains and enhances lung and heart function

Water Exercise Therapy Limitations and Considerations

Individuals with back pain should not perform water-based activities without the supervision of a health professional. The temperature of the water might be too warm to accommodate some conditions. It is not suitable for people with:

  • Severe heart failure
  • Infection
  • Incontinence
  • Fever
  • Limited endurance
  • Limited eyesight
  • Impaired sense of the position of the body.
  • Osteoporosis
  • Those wear a pain medication patch (depending on the temperature of the water)

Water Therapy Exercises

Techniques in water therapy exercise include

  • Floating pool exercises
  • Spa therapy
  • Conditioning using equipment like flotation devices and surgical tubing
  • Swimming

The exercises in water therapy are diverse. They can be tailored according to the person’s condition.

Pool Therapy Exercise Techniques

Basic techniques for pool therapy exercises are:

  • Knee-to-chest exercise.
  • Leg raise exercise.
  • Wall-facing leg stretch exercise.
  • Pool walking exercise.
  • Quadruped activity and exercise.

Spa treatments often accompany water therapy for the treatment of back pain. Relaxing in warm water relaxes the muscles and improves the blood circulation. Consequently, the body becomes flexible and prepared for exercise.

Combined Water Therapy for Back Exercise with Land-based Methods

If a back injury makes exercising on land tough, water therapy can be used as a short-term option. It can also be incorporated in an ongoing exercise program as well. People can also switch back to exercising on land once they are done with water therapy.

Few people find a combination of dry and wet exercise environments highly beneficial. Aquatic exercise is the best option for managing spine pain. A water medium is excellent for many as it provides an effective and safe method for spine pain management while improving function.

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