Warm Water Therapy

There are many available methods when it comes to physical therapy. Traditional forms of physical therapy are usually land-based ones. However, there are certain patients who are in need of rehabilitation but cannot perform movements on land due to pain or physical disabilities. In this case, aquatic or water therapy may be the answer.

Water therapy, specifically warm water therapy, is one of the oldest methods of alternative therapy. Water has been used as a therapeutic agent since the ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Roman civilizations. For instance, bathing in spring water was prescribed by Hippocrates to heal sickness. The Japanese were likewise known for using Japanese hot springs or “onsen”.

The popularity of warm water therapy has grown in these modern times for several reasons. One of these is that certain patients have become uncomfortable with traditional medicine and prefer a more spiritual and natural method. Water also has soothing properties that can heal the body by reducing overall stress levels and improving fitness levels and rehabilitation time frames. It is a safe alternative to land-based therapy and is suitable for children and adults of all ages and fitness levels.

Healing Properties of Water

Water therapy owes much of its effectiveness to the physical properties of water, such as buoyancy, viscosity, hydrostatic pressure, and water temperature.

  • Buoyancy

Buoyancy assists in supporting the person’s weight while he or she is submerged in water. This significantly reduces the force placed on the joints which makes it less painful for the patient to perform exercises. This is especially helpful for injured patients, those who are overweight or those with musculoskeletal conditions like arthritis.

  • Viscosity

Water is 12 times more viscous than air. This viscosity provides a great source of natural resistance for strengthening purposes without the need to use weights. This allows the patient to strengthen muscle groups while improving mobility and function.

  • Hydrostatic Pressure

Hydrostatic pressure produces forces that are perpendicular to the body’s surface, which decreases joint and tissue swelling resulting from arthritic disorders or injury.

  • Water Temperature

The warm water temperature helps in relaxing muscles which contribute to an increase in blood flow, resulting to proper oxygen delivery and earlier healing of injured tissues.

Warm Water Therapy

Warm water therapy is usually performed in a therapy pool with trained and certified staff as well as with all sorts of aqua therapy equipment and accessories. Water temperature can be anywhere from 33 to 35 degrees Celsius or 91 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit or what is known as indifferent temperature. This makes the joints looser and reduces pain without stressing the cardiovascular system. Take note, however, that temperatures from 40 degrees Celsius or 104 degrees Fahrenheit are considered dangerous for everyone.

Benefits of Warm Water Therapy

  • Water therapy helps improve circulation. While the hydrostatic pressure puts the heart under constant pressure, its warmth promotes circulation by increasing blood flow to the limbs and decreasing swelling and inflammation. Also, instead of working to keep your body cool, the warm water helps your heart focus on enabling the workout to continue.
  • Warm water stimulates blood flow to stiff muscles and frozen joints while exerting lesser impact on them. This allows patients to stretch different muscles at different angles, reducing strain and improving flexibility. Repeating these movements with slight resistance from the warm water aids in rehabilitating injuries and inducing metabolic processes in tissues. This is important especially for athletes for quality recovery from trainings or injuries by the method of active recovery.
  • Water movement acts as a natural form of therapeutic massage. Movement in water results in water flowing in currents, which then acts as a natural form of massage for the patient. The therapist can take advantage of this, together with some equipment, to target problem areas by creating gentle currents aimed at them. Doing so further helps promote not only circulation but relaxation as well.
  • Warm water therapy is very effective for pain management. This is applicable for all kinds of musculoskeletal conditions, such as fibromyalgia, arthritis, and low back pain. This is due to the buoyancy that decreases the force of gravity that is compressing the joint. Studies have shown that soaking in warm water for 20 minutes gives the patient the maximum benefits of warm water therapy. Those who participate in warm water therapy programs for two to three times a week were said to experience as much as 40 percent decrease in pain along with increased physical function.

Warm Water Therapy and Swimitation

One form of warm water therapy is called Swimitation, which is a bath intended for both relaxation and exercise. A Swimitation bath makes use of a patented ergonomic saddle-like seat that keeps the body still while giving patients the ability to freely move their arms and legs. The seat supports the whole body trunk which helps avoid muscle tensions.

The Swimitation bath basically involves floating in moderately warm bath water of about 34 to 37 degrees Celsius. It is especially advisable for athletes who need quality recovery from trainings or injuries. The warm water calms their nervous system, helps relax their tense muscles, and alleviates muscle pain. Injured athletes and other patients are more compliant with this type of therapy knowing that they would be able to go through it with less pain compared to traditional land-based therapies.

Athletes can also take advantage of Swimitation exercises for non-specific training. The water-based training programs can give them an excellent emotional charge, relieve stress and burnout, and help them fall asleep easily.

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