Physical therapist Brett Sears works with outpatient orthopedic therapy and focuses on low back and neck pain rehabilitation as the owner of Capital Region Physical Therapy. But he stressed that even informal water exercise has merits for nurses looking to reduce their stress or keep a commitment to exercising. "The simplest way to get started using hydrotherapy is to join a gym with a hot tub. That way, you can easily enjoy the benefits of hydrotherapy without having to worry about the hassle of maintenance and upkeep of whirlpool and hydrotherapy equipment," advised Sears, who is a member of the American Physical Therapy Association and the physical therapy expert on Verywell.com. "The gym membership may motivate you to exercise more and improve your fitness level. Another simple way to get started with hydrotherapy is to purchase an in-home portable jet bath. This device fits onto your home's tub, allowing you to enjoy hydrotherapy and whirlpool treatments in your own home."
To maximize the effectiveness of any whirlpool, Sears recommended positioning your body in front of the jets and letting the pulsating water gently massage your sore muscles. "Try to slowly and rhythmically move your joints while the whirlpool is massaging muscles," he added. "Research shows that back pain, neck pain, and peripheral joint problems respond best to exercise and movement."
For exercising in water, PMLGH recommended creating more resistance by wearing a flotation belt and moving quickly, but only increasing your speed gradually. "The higher the water is on your body, the more resistance you feel. A water level between waist- and chest-high is a comfortable place to start," PMLGH added. "You get resistance but also have support and balance. If you want to vary your intensity (interval training), sprint by raising your knees higher to run quickly. Move your arms up and down quickly at your side. Do this for 15 seconds. Then return to a slow jog or walk in the water."
Even the most casual water exercise or whirlpool massage may need the go-ahead from your primary physician, Sears cautioned. “It’s a good idea to check in with your local physical therapist to learn specifically what to do to maximize your pain-free mobility. Also, some people with altered neurological sensation or with open wounds should not use hydrotherapy. Check in with your doctor to ensure that it is safe for you to use.”
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