Float your way to fitness

By The Health News Team | February 19, 2019
Float your way to fitness

A recreational therapist works with David Moody during an “Adapted Aquatics” class at Sharp Grossmont Hospital’s Rehabilitation Center. David is a stroke survivor who has attended the class three times a week for the past two years.

Aquatic therapy refers to treatments and exercises performed in water for relaxation, fitness, physical rehabilitation and other therapeutic benefits. Sharp Grossmont Hospital's unique program helps children and adults of all ages achieve their physical and functional goals.

The pool at Sharp Grossmont Hospital has been offering aquatics therapy for children and adults since 1977. Cheryl Pawlak, recreation therapy lead, provides us with a crash course on aquatic therapy.

Who can benefit from aquatic therapy?
Sharp Grossmont's program offers classes for children as young as 6 months all the way up to adults in their 90s.

One class, nicknamed "S.P.L.A.S.H.," is designed for children with special conditions such as cerebral palsy, spina bifida, autism or arthritis, and parents are encouraged to join as co-instructors. Another, "Adapted Aquatics," is a small group class designed to help people with physical limitations by establishing individual programs to meet their specific fitness goals. "AquaMoves" is designed specifically for people with arthritis.

Others who can benefit from aquatic therapy include people with joint issues, obesity, back problems and pain, or those recovering from injury or surgery. Even well-conditioned individuals experience the benefits of water-based movements and exercises.

What are some health benefits of performing exercises in the water?
Water decreases compression on the joints, allowing one to exercise more safely and with less pain. The buoyancy of the water promotes an upright posture, allowing the person to walk — something they may not be able to do on land. Pools kept at warm temperatures help to deepen relaxation, allowing increased range of motion and flexibility.

Some physiological benefits of aquatic therapy include increased circulation, decreased muscle soreness, improvements in sleep, increased range of motion and increased muscle relaxation.

Are there different types of aquatic therapy?
We incorporate several approaches into Sharp Grossmont's “Adapted Aquatics” class, including:

  • Watsu — one-on-one sessions during which a therapist gently cradles, moves, stretches and massages a person in chest-deep warm water

  • AquaStretch™ — stretching exercises done in varying depths of water, with or without weights

  • Bad Ragaz Ring Method — hands-on bodywork in which the therapist assists the person in a series of movements while they are positioned horizontally, supported by floats

What is unique about the aquatic therapy program at Sharp Grossmont Hospital?
The indoor pool at Sharp Grossmont Hospital's Rehabilitation Center is kept at a temperature between 92 and 95 degrees, making it the warmest in the area. Classes offered in the mornings, afternoons, evenings and weekends are led by certified recreational therapists who work closely with each individual to establish a program based on their personal needs or desire. Treatment approaches are selected based on each individual's own goals.

Learn more about Sharp Grossmont Hospital's aquatic therapy program.

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