Aquatic Therapy

Hi, I'm Doctor Jo, a licensed Physical Therapist and Doctor of Physical Therapy. I hope you enjoy my video demos of stretches & exercises for common injuries and syndromes. Be safe. Have fun. And I hope you feel better soon.

Standing Exercises in a Pool

Sometimes you just can't do exercises on land because they are either too painful, or you just might not be strong enough to do them on land. Aquatic therapy with water exercise helps you get the exercise you need in a low impact environment. You can really concentrate on your technique because you don't have to worry about falling. After you do a warm-up in the pool of gait exercises, then you can work on some standing exercises.

It is really important to make sure you have good posture when you are in the pool. It is really easy to move your upper body a lot, but you want to try to keep your upper body straight and upright. Squeeze in your abdominals to help keep that upright position. Using ankle weights can be very beneficial.  Not only do they give you some extra resistance, but they also keep your feet on the ground while doing the exercises.

Hold onto the side or a bar to help keep your upright posture. Start off with a hip flexion/extension (front to back) exercise. Lock out your knee and try to keep it straight the whole time. Pulling your toes up or into dorsiflexion will help keep your knee straight. Bring your foot up as high as you can without leaning back, and then bring it back as far as you can without leaning forward. Then still keeping the knee locked out, perform hip abduction/adduction (side to side). Try not to turn your foot out when kicking out to the side. This will change the muscle you are trying to work. Start off with 10 on each side, and then work your way up.

Next is a hamstring curl. You are only bending your knee here. Try to keep your hip in a neutral position.  If you bend your hip up, you are working different muscles. If you have to hold your hip down, that is fine, but it should stay in alignment with the other hip. Then you are going to do a Rockette kick. Bend your knee up into a march position, then kick your leg straight out. If that is too much of a stretch, don't bring your knee quite as high. Make sure to do all these exercises on both sides. When you are standing on the leg, and moving the other, you are using your muscles as stabilizers so they are being worked in different ways.

The final two will be done with your feet about shoulder width apart, and again, make sure your feet are pointed forward. For the heel/toe raises, make sure to go as high up on your toes as you can to work the calf muscles. Then roll back onto the heels and pull your toes up to work the anterior tibialis muscle. Try not to stick your bottom back, just pull your toes up. Lastly, is a squat. Keep your feet flat on the ground the whole time. Stick your bottom back like you are going to sit in a chair to make sure your knees do not go in front of your toes. Bring your chest slightly forward, and keep your back straight.

If these become easy and you can do 20-25 without difficulty, try doing them without holding on to the side. If that is still easy, try holding on, but increase your speed. Make smaller, but quicker movements, and this will add resistance in the water.  If you can't hold your posture while doing these, then you are not quite ready yet!

Always use CAUTION with Exercising in a Pool:

If you can't swim, don't do these exercises unless there is a certified lifeguard on duty. Working out in a pool can be very deceiving. Many times you will feel great while in the pool because gravity is taken away. It feels easy and you want to do a lot, but always start at a baseline. If you have not performed aquatic exercises before, you have to let your body adapt to it no matter what your fitness level. Pool workouts should only start at about 40 minutes, and you shouldn't be in the pool longer than an hour especially if it is a heated pool. Don't let the water fool you!

 

Advanced Pool Exercises with a Kickboard

Once you have mastered the walking exercises, you can add speed and use equipment to give you more resistance through the water. Today I am going to show you some pool jogging exercises with a kickboard. Put the kickboard halfway into the water to start off.

The first exercise is jogging forward. As you are jogging, push and pull the kickboard in front of you. The faster you push and the faster you jog, the more resistance you will get, making it harder. Then turn around and go backwards. Continue to push and pull the kickboard as you are jogging backwards. Finally, put your arm straight out to the side. Put the kickboard in front of your arm, and try to keep your body facing forward. Jog forward, and try not to let the resistance of the kickboard twist or turn your body. Switch sides coming back. This is a great core workout.

Always use CAUTION with Exercising in a Pool:

If you can't swim, don't do these exercises unless there is a certified lifeguard on duty. Working out in a pool can be very deceiving. Many times you will feel great while in the pool because gravity is taken away. It feels easy and you want to do a lot, but always start at a baseline. If you have not performed aquatic exercises before, you have to let your body adapt to it no matter what your fitness level. Pool workouts should only start at about 40 minutes, and you shouldn't be in the pool longer than an hour especially if it is a heated pool. Don't let the water fool you.

 

Deep Water Exercises in a Pool

Now that you have done the exercises in the shallow end, you can move to the deep end. Some of you might have to stay in the deep end if you have a non-weight bearing precaution. Using an oversized noodle is one of the best ways to keep you in a vertical position. You can buy these for $4-5 at the Dollar General store when they are in season. Also, get some ankle weights to keep you vertical. Mine are 3 pounds total, but you can go up to 10 pounds total if you really need that extra traction in the deep end.

Try not to lean back or forward with these deep water pool exercises. To get proper traction on your back and correct form with the exercises, you need to be in a vertical position. Start of with the bike. Try to bring your knees up and kick forward making big circle motions with your legs, just like you are riding a bike. Then kick your legs out and in like a jumping jack, or hip abduction/adduction. Try to keep your feet forward so you are working the outer portion of your legs, and try to keep your knees straight and locked out.

Next, is a scissor/Cross Country skiing movement.  Again, keep your knees straight and locked out to give you extra resistance kicking your legs front to back, or hip flexion/extension. Finally, the best part is traction or hanging. Try to relax your whole body; no movement is necessary with this exercise. Try to keep your feet below you in a vertical position, and just hang!

Always use CAUTION with Exercising in a Pool:

If you can't swim, don't do these exercises unless there is a certified lifeguard on duty. Working out in a pool can be very deceiving. Many times you will feel great while in the pool because gravity is taken away. It feels easy and you want to do a lot, but always start at a baseline. If you have not performed aquatic exercises before, you have to let your body adapt to it no matter what your fitness level. Pool workouts should only start at about 40 minutes, and you shouldn't be in the pool longer than an hour especially if it is a heated pool. Don't let the water fool you!

 

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