Fitness that makes a splash
Slips into the pool to see what hydrotherapy is all about.
Take your average aqua aerobics class, lose the music, increase the water temperature and reduce the intensity. Hydrotherapy is a form of therapeutic aquatic exercise used for rehabilitation and to increase mobility, strength and flexibility.
It’s usually done in waist to chest-deep water with a temperature set around 30-35 degrees Celsius to encourage circulation and relax the muscles. The increased buoyancy reduces the impact of general land-based exercises and at the same time provides resistance for strength training. A disclaimer at Auckland’s West Wave revealed that you shouldn’t be in the hydrotherapy pool for longer than 20 minutes without an instructor.
This class came under the supervision of a trained professional and with a timespan of 45 minutes.
The small rectangular pool sloped to a maximum depth of 1.2 metres and came equipped with a ramp and handrails for assistance. The temperature was that of a not-quite-hot-enough bath.
As a new class member, the instructor asked if I had any injuries to look out for. He also suggested that the class is more enjoyable if you have someone to talk to. My fellow class members were incredibly friendly but mostly surprised to see someone in attendance 30 years their junior. A constant stream of chatter rang throughout the class. The morning session also served as a weekly social gathering. Coffee was locked in afterwards.
The main purpose of this class was to work the lower body. It started with some walking on the spot, punching and kicking under water, and moving leisurely to each end of the pool. Every motion was breezy.
Pool noodles were introduced to add extra resistance under the water. They were balanced underfoot and pushed downward, positioned behind the back and used as a swing to engage the core, and held with the hands for an underwater push-up.
With the noodles between our legs we floated in a circle, increasing speed with a pedalling motion. Much fun. The session ended with some light underwater stretching and an instruction to drink lots of water. Hydrotherapy is suitable for the wounded, the physically unable or those simply looking to recover with light exercise on a rest day.
The buoyancy reduces the impact on joints, which makes it ideal for people with osteoporosis, arthritis or those weary of getting injured when training. Thanks to the increased operating temperature of the pool, in some cases hydrotherapy could simply involve floating and acclimatising in the water. AUCKLAND COUNCIL Risks with hydrotherapy are slim. There’s more chance of contracting a recreational pool illness or getting eye irritation from chlorine than any real physical injury.
Auckland’s West Wave clearly states that users should always be in the presence of a trained lifeguard or approved caregiver.
Users are also encouraged to drink plenty of water during and after the class. As with any form of exercise, you should consult a registered medical professional first. Hydrotherapy pools can be found throughout the country.
Hydrotherapy is used for rehabilitation and to increase mobility, strength and flexibility.