Our Vote for Hydrotherapy

Can going to the hot pools be considered therapy?

We believe that there’s good reason to say yes! Hydrotherapy, as the name suggests, is a form of rehabilitation using water – and it really doesn’t get the credit it deserves. It can involve simply relaxing in the warmth of warm water, completing rehabilitation exercises to increase strength and mobility, or water walking to manage weight. Hydrotherapy is great for the mind as well – there’s a reason that a hot bath can right all wrongs in the world!

Who Is It Best Suited For?

Hydrotherapy provides a novel exercise option for those who don’t tolerate land-based exercise very well.

Where hydrotherapy really comes into its own, is for the management of pain conditions. The warmth of the water, usually between 33-36 degrees, works wonders for arthritic pains, back pain, and fibromyalgia! These temperatures can help to improve blood flow to the muscles, relax the muscles and allow the joints to gain a greater range of motion compared to on land.  

There’s also evidence that the sensory feedback (the temperature and movement sensations) traveling up to the brain block some of the pain sensations, resulting in less pain while in the water (2).

 It Reduces The Load on Joints

Water based exercise removes the load of gravity – the more deeply submerged in water you are, the lesser the load on those weight bearing joints, such as the hips, knees and ankles. Being submerged in water up to your navel roughly halves the load on the joints! (3) 

For someone who struggles to meet their physical activity recommendations on land due to pain, water provides a kinder opportunity. This avenue of exercise is particularly helpful for people whose joints are complaining from excess body weight! Someone who is unable to walk for 10 minutes on land may now be able to walk in the water for 30 minutes. It allows them to move more and exercise for longer without exacerbating their pain. 

Low Impact Strengthening and Balance

The water provides two benefits – it provides a gentle resistance to work against, while also reducing the impact of the movements. In this regard, the water helps to promote strength development while still keeping the joints supported and stable. 

It also provides an opportunity for balance training without the danger of falls. For someone who is too nervous to practise balance exercises on land, the water offers a safer solution for training stability. The deeper the water, the more support provided, so people can moderate their own exercise challenge. The waves and splashes in pools can help to provide an additional challenge for balance as participants are forced to stabilise against these fluctuations in the water. 

It’s Great for the Mind Too!

With the removal of technology (there’s no checking phones while in the water!), hydrotherapy can provide a sigh of relief from the stressors of the outside world. It creates a quiet space for thought without the constant emails, texts, Instagram or Facebook notifications springing up constantly. 

Aside from being technology free, people find being in warm water very relaxing in itself, helping to provide calming benefits that reduce stress – just don’t go to the public pools in the middle of the school holidays expecting to come home feeling calm. . . 

In Summary

Exercise physiology programs aren’t restricted to gyms or land based facilities! The beauty of being a mobile service means that we are able to meet people at different facilities or locations, such as local swimming pools. Hydrotherapy is great for the body and mind alike.

And if clients aren’t on board with going to a swimming pool, not to worry – a hot bath can work wonders too! 


  1. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/what-is-hydrotherapy/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4049052/ 
  3. https://www.genphysio.com.au/the-benefits-of-hydrotherapy/ 
Author: Yolanda van Vugt
Editor: Tessa Nielsen
Clinical Exercise Physiologist and Content Creator at Specialised Health

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