Hydrotherapy is a form of activity performed in warm water, purely with a focus on recovery and rehabilitation. I have utilised hydrotherapy with numerous patients, and I have seen great outcomes and benefits specifically for those post total knee replacement surgery. This however does not mean it is limited to just this type of patient. Hydrotherapy has been shown to benefit those with back pain, arthritis or other inflammatory conditions, different post surgery replacements, cardiovascular/pulmonary conditions, neurological conditions, or even individuals with difficulty weight bearing or at risk of falling.
Hydrotherapy is a form of exercise I recommend to my post surgery patients who would like an alternative to land based gym programs, particularly for those with painful and stiff knees. It can also act as an additional form of exercise which can complement our on land home or gym program. After surgery we continue to aim to work towards improving our mobility, range and strength, which are all things we can achieve with hydrotherapy. Previous exercises that were completed on land can be translated into the pool, but what many patients find surprising is the increase in ease of completing them in the water.The most common feedback I get from my patients is the freedom of movement that hydrotherapy provides. This is a result of both the warmth of the water and the elimination of gravity. The warm temperature of water promotes blood flow and my patients often express how eased their muscles feel and how relaxed they are overall. The buoyancy of the water also supports a patient’s body, which makes them able to move their joints through larger pain-free ranges.
The weightlessness of the body in water means a patient does not need to fully weight-bear through joints which may be sore/painful. Additionally, we can safely practice balance/unsupported exercises as the body is supported by the water. This creates a safe environment for unaided mobility practice, where patients can try to walk unsupported (without the use of a walking aid) without the fear of falling and injuring themselves.
Many patients are surprised by the fact that water not only supports us but it can provide resistance to our movements. This means we can also work towards our strengthening goals in the pool. We can manipulate our body movements in ways which provide more (further from surface) or less (closer to surface) resistance. Pool toys/therapy aids can play a huge role in also creating more resistance in the pool.
Overall, I have had very positive feedback from all my patients who have engaged in hydrotherapy. With their goals in mind we were able to develop a personalised exercise program with a frequency and duration which supports their condition and goals/aims. The pool may be something you are interested in, but it is important to talk to someone to gain all the relevant information before jumping straight in.
We at PhysioWest love to jump in the pool with you and work alongside you to educate you on the benefits and help you achieve your desired goals. If you would like more information, we would love to chat. Visit or contact us at our Mile End or Salisbury clinics.