Aquatic Therapy

“I had the best results with the aquatic physical therapy staff here. I’ve suffered with back issues for many years & the freedom of doing things in the water is amazing. ”

Kerry S.

Performed by one of our licensed physical therapist’s, aquatic therapy is a highly effective treatment option for a variety of people. Regardless of your age, aquatic therapy improves the movement and function of individuals while unloading the weight of their bodies. The physical properties of water are not only able to assist in the body’s natural healing process, but also help to improve the strength and coordination of patients. The buoyancy, resistance and compression of water are what make aquatic therapy a beneficial treatment option for a variety of patients.

Water counteracts gravity which then helps support the weight of patients. Because of this, patients are able to increase their range of motion without the weight of their body compressing their joints. Additionally, the resistance that water provides allows for patients to work all the muscle groups that surround the affected joint, increasing a patient’s strength and coordination. Lastly, the pressure created by water helps improve blood flow throughout the body.

Water creates a relaxing environment making it easier to stretch the muscles. The ability to float on water allows for patients to do movements and stretches that they are unable to do on land. The direct warmth of the water on the skin not only creates a relaxing environment, but also promotes flexibility and decreases swelling. The ability to work with and against the pressure of the water gives patients the resistance needed to strengthen their muscles.


Symptoms and diseases aquatic therapy benefits

Aquatic therapy has been proven to be beneficial for a wide variety of individuals. Whether a patient cannot tolerate regular exercise, or they struggle with balance, mobility, and/or muscle strengthening, aquatic therapy has helped increase the mobility and function of patients. Below is a continued list of symptoms, diseases, and/or injuries that aquatic therapy may benefit.

  • Back, hip, pelvic, foot, shoulder, and/or ankle pain
  • Arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Spinal injuries
  • Head injuries, headaches, and/or migraines
  • Chronic pain
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Total joint replacement rehabilitation
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Post and pre-operative patients (rotator cuff repair, ACL tear, etc.)
  • Decondition rehabilitation
  • Difficulty with walking and/or balance disorders
  • Sports rehabilitation
  • Pregnant/postpartum women
    • Reduces gravity’s pull on baby
    • Helps prevent hyperlordosis
    • Decreases chance of overheating
    • Hydrostatic pressure helps prevent edema
  • Autonomic disorder
  • Cancer patients
  • Pulmonary tuberculosis
  • Meningitis

And many more. Call today to set up an initial evaluation and discuss your pain with one of our physical therapists. They will let you know if aquatic therapy is right for you.


Benefits to expect after completing aquatic therapy

  • Improved range of motion, mobility, and function
    • The buoyancy of water reduces the effects of gravity, allowing patients to increase their range of motion. The ability to float on water provides comfort and relaxation to stiff and/or tight muscles. The warm water temperature also helps to relax and loosen up tight and sore muscles.
  • Stronger muscles and improved muscle tone
    • Water is 700 times denser than air, making it an excellent source of resistance to strengthen muscles. The resistance of water strengthens a wide variety of muscles throughout the torso, pelvis and legs.
  • Decreased pain, muscle stiffness and spasms
    • Because the body is surrounded by warm water, patients often feel comfortable and relaxed during aquatic therapy. When muscles are placed in warm water, more oxygen is sent through the body and the blood vessels in the body become dilated, improving the body’s circulation and blood flow.
  • Improved balance
    • The pressure of water in combination with its buoyancy provides added support to the body.
  • Improved awareness and confidence in body movements, balance, and coordination
    • The support, resistance and pressure that water provides patients, gives patients more time to react without the fear of falling while doing exercises.
  • Improved cardiovascular, respiratory, and musculoskeletal effects due to the body’s response to immersion
  • Improved functional skills such as walking, sitting, and going up stairs
    • The uniform resistance of the water allows for unique feedback to the nervous system, improving coordination with walking.


Aquatic therapy exercises, positions, and movements

Each one of our physical therapists specializes in and utilizes different aquatic therapy movements. Because of this, each aquatic therapy session will vary based on the physical therapist the patient works with. However, a majority of the time, the patient will be in a relaxed, supine position (lying horizontally with the face and torso facing up). Below are a few different movements our physical therapists may implement during their aquatic therapy sessions.

  • Bad ragaz
    • Lying in a supine position in waist or shoulder-deep water, this aquatic therapy technique focuses on strengthening and mobilizing exercises. Flotation devises are often used to provide the patient with additional support.
  • Watsu
    • This very relaxing and therapeutic aquatic therapy technique requires the physical therapist to support and guide the patient through a series of flowing movements and stretches.
  • Aqua stretch
    • Incorporating a series of stretching exercises in various depths of water, this aquatic therapy technique typically requires the patient to hold a static position for at least 5 seconds. Weights may or may not be used during this aquatic therapy technique.



Details of the pool

At the Princeton Club, we have access to two pools that we use for aquatic therapy: a cool water resistance current pool and a warm water whirlpool. Each aquatic therapy session will always involve one physical therapist and one physical therapist aide, giving every patient adequate attention and care. You will never do the same exercises or same routine during the course of your aquatic therapy plan of care. Each aquatic therapy session is structured to the needs of the patient on the day of treatment, because each day we all feel different aches and pains. Every aquatic therapy session will typically end in the warm water whirlpool so that the patient leaves feeling warm, relaxed and stretched out.

Cool water resistance current pool

  • 84 degrees
  • This pool has a current that allows individuals of all abilities to exercise, walk, jog, or swim against the resistance of the pool for optimal therapeutic and cardiovascular benefits. This pool is often referred to as the “treadmill for swimmers.”

Warm water whirlpool

  • 103 degrees
  • This pool is significantly warmer than the cool water resistance current pool. Warm water therapy consists of three main healing components: heat, buoyancy, and massage. This type of therapy especially helps with joint/muscle pain. The whirlpool jets provide underwater pressure and one of our physical therapist’s will manually stretch and manipulate your muscles to alleviate muscle tightness, improve circulation, decrease joint pain and aid in the body’s natural healing process.

Entrance to the pool 

  • A water wheel chair can be used to easily, and carefully roll a patient into the pool
  • The pool has a zero depth entry point, allowing patients to walk into the pool with ease
  • Patients also have the option to walk down four steps into the pool


Who should not participate in aquatic therapy?

  • Incipient cardiac failure and unstable angina. Respiratory dysfunction; vital capacity of less than 1 liter
  • Severe peripheral vascular disease. Danger of bleeding or hemorrhage
  • Severe kidney disease:Patients are unable to adjust to fluid loss during immersion
  • Open wounds, colostomy, and skin infections such as tinea pedis and ringworm
  • Uncontrolled bowel or bladder: Bowel accidents require pool evacuation, chemical treatment, and possibly drainage
  • Water and airborne infections or diseases: Examples include influenza, gastrointestinal infections, typhoid, cholera, and poliomyelitis
  • Uncontrolled seizures: They create a safety issue for both the physical therapist and patient if immediate removal from the pool is necessary


Depending on the pain you feel and the results you want to achieve, aquatic therapy may be the best option for you. To further consider aquatic therapy as a treatment option, call us today to schedule.


“I look forward to my Aquatic Therapy.”– Maria D.