Hydrotherapy techniques are extremely beneficial and can be used with any type of arthritis. Hydrotherapy is also beneficial for people suffering from Parkinsons, Fibromyalgia, many neurological disorders, autoimmune and joint illnesses.
Hydrotherapy is not aquarobics, which by contrast is a lot more strenuous. Hydrotherapy is generally more focused on slow, controlled movements initiated by the therapist to resolve specific joint or muscle problems, while you relax in the water and allow the therapist to direct your body movements. It’s also not Spa therapy, which is based on the theory that the mineral content of spa water has special health-giving properties. In Europe, hydrotherapy may take place in spa water, but the benefits of hydrotherapy do not depend on them taking place in spa water.
Hydrotherapy is beneficial regardless of how many of your joints are affected. It helps to improve recovery after joint replacement surgery as well as for back pain, auto-immune arthritis diseases and osteoarthritis. Individual therapy sessions are helpful in the beginning, but normally you would be in a small class of others, with exercises nonetheless tailored to each individual.
In South Africa, hydrotherapy is usually offered by either biokineticists or physiotherapists. This article and the accompanying photographic demonstrations of different movements are by biokineticist Chanelle le Sueur, who holds an additional qualification in hydrotherapy.
The exercise science of biokinetics lives by the saying, ‘Life through Movement’, and our main focus is to strengthen the body as a whole so that our clients can complete the activities of daily living with ease (standing up, dressing, putting on socks, cooking, playing sports and so forth). We use scientifically based exercises focused on the needs of individual patients and their particular conditions.
Part of our treatment includes hydrotherapy, which is most beneficial to take part in as a first phase therapy treatment no matter what operation you’ve had or condition you have. Water therapy has been used for thousands of years, especially in China, Japan and ancient Rome and Greece, where communal hot baths were centres of social activity. By the 19th century, Britain and the USA had at last begun to catch up and a similar culture grew up around natural hot springs such as Bath in the UK, the town that features prominently in Jane Austin’s books. By mid-century, cold water cures were as common as warm water pools, and the two were also used in conjunction with each other, in order to increase and decrease the flow of blood to various organs. Today, the word Hydrotherapy applies particularly to warm water therapy.
Bad Ragaz was derived from hydrotherapy developed in Switzerland and is performed in the water together with the therapist, who moves the client, who is lying horizontally supported by rings or floats, in a series of movements and relaxation patterns. The patterns may be performed passively for flexibility and relaxation, or actively (Active Bad Ragaz) with assistance or resistance by the therapist.
Halliwick is a form of adapted aquatics which can be modified into active aquatic therapy. The client is usually held while the therapist systematically and progressively destabilizes her to teach balance and postural controls. The client learns to react to and eventually predict the demands of an unstable environment.
Watsu is a form of passive therapy modelled after the principles of Zen Shiatsu massage. The client is cradled in the arms of the therapist who stabilizes or moves one segment of the body, resulting in the stretching of another segment due to the drag effect. The client remains completely passive while the therapist combines the unique qualities of the water with rhythmic flow patterns.
These techniques are extremely beneficial and can be used with any type of arthritis. Hydrotherapy is also beneficial for people suffering from Parkinsons, Fibromyalgia, many neurological disorders, autoimmune and joint illnesses. Some of the benefits are:
• decreased pain;
• improved balance and stability due to the buoyancy and water resistance helping to hold you;
• improved strength and endurance without feeling sore or extremely fatigued after a session;
• decreased swelling in the ankles or other limbs;
• improvement in walking as water’s buoyancy helps us to stand upright much more easily and move more quickly than on land;
• improved mood due to the relaxing effect of warm water, increased confidence about exercising and enjoyment of companionship in the group.
Hydrotherapy is just what you need if…
• you find exercising on land hurts your joints and muscles too much,
• you suffer from extremely tight muscles and have muscular spasms,
• you feel extremely fatigued for some days after one on-land session, or
• your balance is poor.
In the water we can exercise freely without worrying about any other concerns, as water is one of the safest and least pressured environments there is to exercise in.
Most medical aids will cover biokinetic rehabilitation, usually up to a set limit. Your body is your most valuable asset so don’t hesitate to invest in it to keep it strong, healthy and mobile. Don’t let your condition own you, but rather take control and give hydrotherapy or biokinetics a try.
Blaauw and Partners Biokinetics is a well established Biokinetic practice in Somerset West (21 years). Owners Becky Blaauw and Prof Bokkie Blaauw have vast experience in rheumatology, autoimmune and arthritis patients.
Prof Bokkie is one of the founders of Biokinetics in South Africa and the practice prides themselves in doing pure Biokinetics. Becky Blaauw has a masters degree from the University of Stellenbosch and has a special interest in Hydrotherapy as many patients cannot do land based exercises.
The practice and pool is based in Somerset West and has a dynamic team of biokineticists. Please visit their website www.blaauwandpartners.co.za for more information or contact them on 021 8527148. or firstname.lastname@example.org
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