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Water really helps people in so many ways. Water helps healing, relaxation, rehabilitation and fitness. Taken on the inside it ensures we’re hydrated, and taken on the outside it keeps us clean! This feature investigates aquatic therapy and how it can help you before, during and after pregnancy. Firstly let’s answer the question – what is aquatic therapy? Then we can look at aquatic therapy for pregnancy and the potential benefits.

What is aquatic therapy?

Aquatic therapy is occupational, physical or recreational therapy which happens in heated pools. It can also be called water therapy or aquatherapy. It’s used under many different circumstances, right through from rehabilitating people who have had strokes to working with children who have disabilities. It’s common theme throughout these different scenarios is that aquatic therapy assists with:

  1. Motor planning
  2. Improving flexibility and strength
  3. Helping focus on bodily awareness
  4. Learning how to move your muscles in new and different ways
  5. Improving sensory integration

1. Floating is fun - floating reduces your weight, at least temporarily

When you float in water, an almost weightless exercise environment is created. In fact once you are submerged up to your neck in water your weight is actually reduced by around 90%. If you’ve previously had a fear of water, then a water therapist can work with you using special flotation equipment, to ensure that you will feel relaxed and can overcome your fears. In order to take part in aquatic therapy, you don’t need to be able to swim. If you are hoping to become pregnant at the time of reading this article, consider aquatic therapy, as it is at the least very relaxing and we’ll explore more of its benefits to read the article. If you are already pregnant, as your pregnancy progresses, you will really appreciate the buoyancy that you experience when floating. This buoyancy reduces compression on your spine and on your joints, it also helps the muscles to strengthen, without the normal pain we associate with exercise that we do on land.
aqua therapy for pregnancy

2. Water works wonders for many conditions

Of course as a medical clinic, the last thing we want to do is promise unrealistic results from aquatic therapy. Like all articles, both on the website and the blog, this feature is not meant to be used as a substitute for medical advice. However water has, and does work wonders for many conditions. For example if someone has had an injury or surgery, water therapy can be started to help the healing process earlier than land-based therapy. This is because the person’s body does not need to carry the weight in the same way as they would on land. Aquatic therapy or water therapy has also been proven to relieve pain associated with a range of conditions such as chronic pain, fibromyalgia and arthritis. This means that for pregnant women going for aquatic therapy can relieve the feeling of carrying extra weight, at the very least, and help reduce any pain intention that you may have.

3. Warm water officially rocks!

Here are some fun, yet important facts about warm water immersion. After reading them I think you might agree that warm water officially rocks! When you immerse yourself in warm water, your body temperature rises, which in turn makes your blood vessels dilate – this then increases your circulation. Let’s look at different time periods of being immersed in warm water, and their effects: 5 minutes immersed in warm water – is when your pulse rate and blood pressure begins to drop a little. 8 minutes immersed in warm water – circulation gets better in both your feet and hands, which makes your extremities feel warmer. 12 minutes immersed in warm water – at this stage your muscles are relaxing, which actually means your body is feeling receptive about passive exercise. Your tissues become more responsive to any stretching you may do, which helps the release of toxins and lactic acid. 15 minutes immersed in warm water – after quarter of an hour you will notice that whatever minor pains you’ve been experiencing, start to dissipate.

4. Aquatic therapy is fun

Whether you’re pregnant or not, exercise is an important part of your life. Today’s modern society has taken away from us the necessity to walk, gather in nature and so on – this means that we have to find ways to integrate exercise into our busy lives. While some of us do this more successfully than others, there is absolutely no doubt that if we can find a way to exercise that is fun, rather than pure hard work, then the chances are we’ll stick to it far more easily. Ever think about when you get into a lovely warm bath full of deliciously scented bubbles? Doesn’t it bring a smile to your face? There’s just something about it, it’s relaxing and fun at the same time. The same applies if you get into a Jacuzzi, or a pool – at least for most people. So water therapy and being in water in different forms is not only good for you, but it’s also fun. You can feel your tensions just slip away, as if they’re being carried away by the water.

5. No pain, no gain??

Did you know that when you exercise in water, you’re exercising in a place where there is resistance in all directions? You can either decrease increases resistance depending on your speed, and use of weights. Exercise in water provides resistance training and cardio vascular training at the same time. The beauty of it is as your burning of the calories and toning your body you don’t feel like you’re doing too much. Therefore if you’re not pregnant already, and you want to find ways to get your body ready for a healthy pregnancy – aquatic therapy is a good choice. You’re putting far less strain on your body by exercising in this way. If you are already pregnant, aquatic therapy is a form of exercise that puts far less stress on your body at this time. In fact, because of the reduced stress, you could almost say no pain, no gain…… but actually you are working your body in a healthy way, and in a supportive manner. However always check with your medical team before making any lifestyle changes at this time.

6. What is hydrostatic pressure when it's at home?

So we just talked about pain, but did you ever wonder why when you get into your bath your aches and pains seem to be relieved? The simple answer is hydrostatic pressure. Hydrostatic pressure is what happens because of the higher density that water has in comparison to our. The force that is the result of this density is called hydro-static pressure. Is it actually feels a little bit like this pressure is kind of hugging your body, in a gentle way. Hydrostatic pressure reduces swelling, may relieve pain and improves circulation.

7. Aquatic therapy is like the 3-D of bodywork

If like many people you’ve engaged in various types of physical therapy on land, or even therapist based therapies such as massage or chiropractic – the one common thread that these have is that they are kind of one-dimensional. Your therapist is restricted to working on just one plane of your body, at one time. The same applies to land based bodywork. However warm water supports three-dimensional bodywork, because of the way it supports the spine and relaxes the muscles. As various parts of your body gets worked during water therapy, you also experience weightlessness, deep stretching and generally deep relaxation.

8. Pregnant Mums-to-be love the feel good factor

As your unborn baby develops inside you, your body is changing, adapting and working in various ways. Pregnancy can take its toll on various parts of your body, such as your back, joints, ankles and knees. Some pregnant women come to a stage where their normal land-based exercise routines don’t work for them any more. This can be because of the extra pressure they are under during pregnancy, and how they are feeling physically. Especially if you’ve generally had a good fitness regime, the frustration of no longer feeling rewarded by your exercises can be tough to deal with. Enter aquatic therapy! During pregnancy the combination of hydrostatic pressure and resistance, and buoyancy, can be a huge relief. Not only are you getting some healthy exercise, but plenty of other positive effects are taking place. Aches and pains are being reduced, those terrible swollen calves and ankles start to decrease… and overall it really does have a feel good factor. Photo Credits: www.aquacareforme.com

DISCLAIMER

All articles on the blog and website are intended as information only. Please do not consider any of the information provided here as a substitute for medical advice. At all times seek medical advice directly with your own doctor and medical team.