Water is such an incredible source of healing in so many different ways. Staying hydrated is one of those that I preach so often, especially in the heat of the summer, not to mention that our bodies are made up mostly of water. That information seems obvious to a lot of people, but less obvious are the benefits water can provide in the exercise and therapeutic realm, which is why I personally think it is pretty awesome that a couple of Catholic Health Services’ skilled nursing facilities offer aquatic therapy.
I remember as a kid watching my own grandfather run through his regular daily routine. While his plans were pretty predictable, he had a pretty unpredictable health condition. Having endured numerous open heart surgeries to remove tumors, having previously suffered heart attacks and ultimately having had a pacemaker put in, there was no telling what any given day would bring. This was particularly the case when it came to his mobility and balance because he was sometimes accident prone in terms of tripping over objects in his path, shuffling while he walked and was also subject to the occasional dreaded fall.
His most beloved part of his routine was water aerobics classes at his community pool. Seemingly physically disabled on land and not quite in the best shape for exercise, he became a different person when he got in the water. More agile, confident in his movements, balanced, and most importantly, comfortable and free of pain. Anyone who has a loved one (or is the loved one) who is either recovering from an injury or lives with chronic pain or disability knows that not only is it a painful experience, but it often heightens your uncertainty during physical activity and can even isolate you from social activity.
The buoyancy that comes from being submerged in water actually helps to alleviate pain and not surprisingly, decreases fear of a fall and the risk associated with typical exercise on land. The naturally occurring pressure in the water improves circulation, while the resistance still allows for a good workout of the muscles (especially the core!). Also, according to BrainLine.org, the water forces the body to move slower, which is ideal for retraining the brains of people who have suffered from traumatic brain injuries.
Even as a healthy 21-year-old, I am capable of so much more when I am in the water versus on land. The ways your flexibility and range of motion can improve combined with the relaxation that can come from just being in the water make aquatic therapy a winning strategy for rehabilitation or even just maintaining physical health, so it is definitely an option worth exploring.
To learn more about Catholic Health Services’ skilled nursing programs and the services they offer, check out https://www.catholichealthservices.org/skilled-nursing/catholic-health-services.aspx?nd=2