Perhaps one of the biggest benefits of aquatic exercise is that it has low impact on the joints. In fact, water aerobics is often recommended by physicians and physical therapists to patients with arthritis and others with painful joints and muscles. Here is why…
- Buoyancy – Water provides buoyancy, which eliminates a lot of stress on the joints during the exercising, making it easier for anyone with painful joints to move. Anyone with painful issues with joints such as the hips, knees, or even the back can find that the buoyancy is far less stressful on their body and can often exercise longer than they can out of the water. And, this is true, no matter how much a person weighs.
- Resistance – Water also automatically creates resistance when moving in it, and will aid in strengthening muscle, without the need for weights or resistance bands. Exercising with resistance outside of water can be quite painful for anyone suffering with joint inflammation. Water resistance combined with buoyancy often allows for more comfortable forms of exercise.
- Hydrostatic Pressure – This is helpful in helping to reduce inflammation in the joints, which leads to proprioception enhancement (stability and coordination) and is likely to help patients with torn ligaments, sprains, and soft tissue inflammation caused by disease or injury.
- Warmth and Relaxation – Aquatic exercise tends to generate warmth during the therapy sessions, as long as the water is an appropriate temperature. This helps to relax the muscles, as well as increase blood flow to areas that are injured and inflamed. Patients with fibromyalgia, back issues, and spasms often find water exercises to be less painful and helpful.
This doesn’t mean you won’t feel the effects of exercise afterward at all, because you probably will, if you are doing it right. However, it should allow you to be able to exercise, when it might be a lot more painful and difficult to do so in a more conventional manner.
The Disadvantages to Water Aerobics
As with anything, there are some disadvantages to consider when planning out your aquatic exercise routine. It will be up to you, to determine if they outweigh the advantages.
One of the disadvantages is that not all pool water is created equal, or a person’s tolerance to the chemicals. Some of the symptoms people with sensitivity to chemicals such as chlorine or bromine include itchy skin and eyes, or even some respiratory irritation in rare cases. However, showering immediately afterward can sometimes help to resolve it.
Another downside is that it doesn’t burn as many calories as an intense conventional workout will provide. However, if you are not able to exercise due to painful joints outside of the pool, then it’s far better than not exercising at all.
But, perhaps the biggest disadvantage to water aerobics is that physical therapy in a pool doesn’t carry over well to the land. When you are out of the pool, which is the majority of your life, you are experiencing full weight-bearing condition, meaning, the buoyancy is gone. So, while it’s a good starting point, ultimately you will have to go through a transition in bearing full weight for full improvement in recovery. If not, it could severely impact your bone mineral density.
Lastly, some movements in which your instructed in the pool, your body isn’t ready for quite yet. Outreaching of the shoulder, as well as any overhead movements, can cause unwanted irritation and inflammation. Also, an upright row with the shoulder (lifting upwards with an internally rotated shoulder) can cause impingement of the shoulder. So make sure to move slowly, with gradual resistance, when attempting new movements and exercises in which your instructed.
All things considered though, aquatic exercise is a great form of working out or physical therapy and is recommended by many professionals. Just make sure to combine it with activities on land, or weight-bearing forms of strength training and exercise.