You know that exercise is not only good for your joints if you have arthritis—it helps you feel better, sleep better, and improves your mood. However, it's often just too painful to do it. This is where water therapy comes in.
Also called hydrotherapy or aquatic therapy, water therapy includes stretching and strengthening movements in waist- or chest-deep water and sometimes includes light aerobic activity as well, such as slow jogging.
This type of exercise is ideal for people with arthritis because the buoyant force of the water significantly reduces the weight on your joints. Studies have shown that up to 50% of your weight is supported in waist-deep water. So if your knees, hips, or back hurt too much for land-based exercise, water therapy may be a good option for you. Water therapy is especially helpful for people who are overweight or obese.
In addition to the supportive environment, water provides several additional benefits:
- The water provides a natural form of gentle resistance, so you can perform strengthening and endurance exercises without adding weights or using machines.
- In most water therapy programs, the water is kept quite warm (typically around 90 to 95 degrees), which is comforting and soothing.
- The warm water leads to improved circulation to your muscles and joints, which in turn furthers the healing processes.
If you're interested in giving water therapy a try, ask your doctor to make sure it's a good fit for you, then search online for "water therapy" or "hydrotherapy" to find a convenient location.