The Benefits of Aquatic Exercise for Chronic Pain

Ilia Jones  |  Posted: Thursday, January 10th, 2019

There are many benefits to incorporating water into your life.  Spending time in an aquatic environment whether for meditation or leisure, offers health benefits both mental and physical.  One of the most profound and exceptional uses for aquatics though is to aid in reducing chronic pain.

Living with chronic pain is a daily struggle, whether from athletics, age, or injury, the effects are enormous.  This is why we have outlined the incredible benefits of aquatic exercise for chronic pain.

Increase Muscular Strength

One of the most effective ways of reducing chronic pain is through physical exercise.  But, for many struggling with chronic pain, physical exercise is nearly impossible. Aquatic exercise provides resistance and support which reduces pain and physical limitations.

By using your muscles in a supported environment like a pool or a therapy pool, you can help to rebuild strength while avoiding further injury.  A therapy pool is typically a warmer body of water, which is even more beneficial to rebuilding muscle.  Increasing muscular strength is essential to reducing and even reversing chronic pain. Water provides buoyancy to allow your muscles to rebuild at a gentle pace.

Promote Healing through Passive Stretches

The benefits of stretching for chronic pain cannot be overstated.  The truth is though, over-stretching can be extremely painful and sometimes can worsen an injury.  Getting into the water and participating in gentle, maybe even guided stretching can exponentially reduce chronic pain while helping muscles to heal.  

Stretching and moving in an aquatic environment helps to heal muscles and improve their endurance.  The virtual removal of gravity allows you to move and stretch your muscles in a passive and gentle way.  This relieves you of the pain through buoyancy while promoting the healing process along by stretching the muscles.

Avoid Muscle Atrophy

One of the biggest worries, besides daily pain management, that comes with chronic pain, is muscle atrophy.  Muscle atrophy is caused by a lack of physical exercise. So it’s no surprise that this occurs in many people who are suffering from chronic pain.  

Physical exercise or any exertion of the body can be extremely painful and nearly impossible to do with chronic pain.  Doing aquatic exercises virtually removes the risk of worsening chronic pain and it eliminates the risk of muscle atrophy because you are working those muscles that could have otherwise been left idle.  

Improve Mood

Chronic pain often comes with feelings of depression, anxiety, or anger. When the body is in a state of constant strain, the mind inevitably follows.  Chronic pain is a large physical barrier and it can feel almost isolating. Oftentimes it can carry the feeling of helplessness or restriction.

Being able to move and use your muscles again can bring a feeling of freedom and accomplishment.  Water provides the environment to do so, immediately improving mood.

Reduce the Need for Medication

Exercise increases the blood flow through the body and to the muscles.  This process promotes healing without the need for heavy doses of medication. Medication is nearly always a factor when dealing with chronic pain.  But, the amounts and the need for it can be reduced through gentle aquatic exercise. Getting oxygen to the muscles through exercise restores and maintains the health of muscle tissue, which will improve injury and can ultimately reduce the need for medication.

Aquatic programs like therapy pool sessions, aquatic yoga, or aquatic core work can completely change your experience with chronic pain.  This form of exercise can help to harmonize and heal the body and mind from the stresses of chronic pain. To learn more about what kinds of aquatic programs The Marsh can offer, visit us online.

Sources: http://www.atri.org/articles/Pritz-Gregor-Water%20Exercise%20as%20a%20Tool%20for%20Chronic%20Pain.pdf