It’s that time of year that we love to hit the pool and aquatic exercise becomes the normal. And as the summer temperatures sore, a quick dip may just be the solution to cool off and decrease the stresses that gravity has on our body. The human body naturally seems to love water immersion and the feeling of buoyancy. Moving in water typically feels safer and more comfortable. And given that pain is an expression of perceived danger, the pool therefore provides a wonderfully secure environment that allows you to move more freely and with less fear.
Whether you just float or exercise, both present there own benefits. If you choose to float, the greater submersion you can achieve the greater the water pressure on your body will be. This significantly lowers your heart rate by approximately 10bpm. In return this can create its own set of benefits.
Exercising in water will allow you to move without the joint compression that may inhibit you from exercising on land. Take a squat for example – this can typically be very painful with gravity given the compressive forces at the knee. But water provides buoyancy that creates a feeling of space and cushioning at the joint. This is non painful and enables completion of this movement with far greater ease. Arthritic joints in general will feel especially good in the water enabling better movement patterns with less compensations.
Chronic conditions such as low back pain or fibromyalgia are shown to have especially good results from the water, enabling better energy production, blood flow, relaxation, sleep, anxiety and pain reductions.
Post operative recovery can be assisted providing all wounds are closed and healed, compression of the water can decrease swelling and improve circulation speeding up recovery time. Warmer water temperatures can help relax tight muscles and allow better flexibility and range of motion.
Falls and Balance
If you struggle from poor balance, and have a history of falls – the pool provides a safe environment to improve your balance and challenge yourself in some ways that you may fear doing on land. Standing on one leg for example or doing a tandem walk/fine line will not cause pain if you do loose balance and fall. But you may get a little wet.
More Fun Information
Standing in water at about chest height will cause about 70% buoyancy which is ideal for exercise. Deep water exercise with a buoyancy belt will enable good water submersion while maintaining a safe workout. Exercising in cooler water while pregnant will help keep up good muscle strength, as well as cardio and respiratory fitness. You will especially appreciate the buoyancy present at your joints. And you will be able to exercise a little harder in the water while maintaining cooler body temperatures. If you suffer from Multiple Sclerosis, pool exercises are beneficial but should be completed in a cooler pool.
And lastly, enjoy your aquatic exercise but don’t allow this to be your only form of activity…. unfortunately WE ARE NOT FISH and do have to function on land with our very good friend…gravity