Aquatic Therapy is a viable option for rehabilitation of spinal issues from low back pain, degenerative disc disease, surgeries and fusions. In the last decade, rehabilitation for the low back has primarily focused on core stabilization. Core strength improves core stability, balance and movement. Aquatic therapy for spinal issues uses the physiological properties of water to improve core strength and to address pain and healing.
The unique properties of water provide the ideal environment for spinal rehabilitation. The support from buoyancy reduces compressive forces, in turn reducing pain. Muscle relaxation achieved in the warm water promotes mobility, allowing movements that are difficult or impossible on land. Movement of the water reduces swelling and promotes local tissue circulation. Progressive exercises from stabilization and strengthening to mobilization in a decompressed environment allows patients to return more quickly to exercise, sport, and functional activities.
When surgery is required, patients cleared for aquatic therapy show accelerated healing and function when compared to land therapy. Aquatic rehabilitation often becomes the therapy of choice for patients as they recover.
Contributor: Mary O. Wykle, Ph.D., MWAquatics