Arthritis is a common condition that can affect people of any age. It results in pain caused by the inflammation of the joints. There are many types of arthritis, but the two most common are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis is typified by the degeneration of cartilage between the bones, whereas rheumatoid arthritis is characterized by the immune system targeting joints which leads to swelling and pain. Although there’s currently no cure for arthritis, it can be treated with surgery, medication and lifestyle changes. Physiotherapy has been found to alleviate the symptoms of arthritis, which has led many to ask, “Can hydrotherapy help arthritis?” In this article, we’ll go over some of the ways in which hydrotherapy may be found useful for sufferers of the condition.
What Is Hydrotherapy?
Hydrotherapy is characterized by exercises done in warm water. This is different from spa therapy where the patient simply soaks in warm, mineral water to achieve relief from pain. It’s also different from aqua-aerobics or aquacize in that hydrotherapeutic exercises are typically slower, more controlled and focused on relaxation. Hydrotherapy treatment can occur in a hospital or physiotherapist’s office that’s equipped with a warm water pool, at a public swimming pool, or privately in a hot tub where the water is at least waist high when standing. Depending on your symptoms, exercises tend to focus on range of motion and building of strength. Here are some of the ways hydrotherapy can help arthritis sufferers.
One of the main reasons that hydrotherapy is good for sufferers of arthritis is because of the buoyant properties of water. It’s well known that regular physical activity can be very helpful for those who suffer from pain due to joint inflammation. However, this same pain can make it difficult to perform exercises on dry land. Doing exercises underwater reduces much of the pressure and impact that joints are exposed to when exercise is performed on dry land. It can also allow the exerciser to perform much larger movements than normal.
Water also creates a natural resistance to any motion which allows the muscles and joints to be exercised without the pain associated with dry land training. Doing exercises underwater requires more effort than those done on land because of the drag created by water resistance. As your movements become faster and stronger, water resistance increases which allows you to tailor the intensity of your workout without the danger associated with free weights or other exercise machines.
Water also allows the exerciser to become much more stable. The consequences of a stumble or fall are greatly reduced when it occurs in water. This makes hydrotherapy an ideal exercise for older people, those with mobility issues and those who suffer from weight issues.
Warm water is great for relieving, or at least, minimizing pain. Warm water can reduce stiffness in the joints as well as increase the blood flow to injured areas. It relaxes the body and the mind (as any hot tub owner will tell you,) by bringing on a surge of endorphins. This alone can bring forth both physical and psychological benefits.
Heat causes the muscles to stretch more easily and allows you to become more flexible. This comes in handy when trying to get the blood flowing and increase one’s range of motion. By doing exercises in warm water you will be able to push your body further with a reduced risk of injury.
Possibly one of the greatest aspects of hydrotherapy is that it can be entirely enjoyable. Getting into a warm tub of water is much easier than trying to convince yourself to head out into poor weather conditions to go for a jog. If you have trouble motivating yourself to exercise, seeking hydrotherapy treatment in your own personal hot tub may give you the incentive you need.
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