Fit­ness that makes a splash

Slips into the pool to see what hy­drother­apy is all about.

Sunday News - - WELLBEING -

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.

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