Category: Spine Pain | Author: Stefano Sinicropi
As we’ve explained on the blog before, exercise is crucial if you want to keep your spine in optimal shape or help it recover after an injury or operation. Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done, especially if the physical stress of movement is painful on your body. When this occurs, aqua therapy is an alternate route that can provide the benefits of exercise without overstressing the spine. Aqua therapy or pool therapy can be incorporated as part of a physical therapy program.
Why Water Therapy?
As we mentioned above, aqua therapy can be beneficial for patients who are experiencing moderate to severe physical back pain. Water-based exercises are also an option for individuals who have a decreased bone density or physical disabilities that make movement difficult. It’s also a common therapy for athletes recovering from ligament or muscle injuries who want to slowly increase stress on their recovering body.
Aqua therapy is beneficial for individuals with spine pain for a number of reasons:
- Buoyancy – Water naturally counteracts the effects of gravity and helps to support the body’s weight in a controlled fashion. Because water helps to shoulder your body weight, a person whose balance has been affected by spine surgery can work to re-strengthen their muscles and balance without being in danger of a painful fall.
- Relaxation- The therapeutic benefit of heated water helps to relax your body while in the water allowing for more mobility when pain with motion is an issue. The increase in activity even when in a pool will increase your range of motion out of the water.
- Hydrostatic Pressure – Hydrostatic pressure is the pressure that is exerted by water due to the force of gravity. You’ll notice this pressure on your body when your body gets deeper in the water. This increase in resistance helps strengthen the muscles and allows for conditioning of the muscles.
When taken in combination, these three properties allow spine pain sufferers to develop an exercise regimen that minimizes the axial load on their spine and decreases their likelihood of injury from overstressing spinal structures and from falls. Additionally, just being in the water reduces the perception of pain as your body adapts to the sensation of being in the water. Talk to your doctor about specific exercises that will be beneficial for your rehab, and be sure to have a spotter or a friend if your back pain is problematic enough that it could make it unsafe to be in the water alone. For more information, contact a skilled spine specialist.