Warm Water Wonders: Aquatic Therapy for Mature Minds and Bodies

By on October 1, 2013

By Elina Root –

Sometimes the basics really are best. While people are understandably drawn to complex and new remedies for whatever ails them, many of the most powerful and widely effective answers to common physiological and even psychological complaints are found within the simple, the natural, and indeed, the very old. It’s no secret, of course, that water is a key to good health at any age; it makes up most of the human body and drinking enough of it allows us to function and thrive. But what about Aquatic Therapy? This basic mode of treatment –which has been shown to deliver important health benefits for those over 50 years of age– can be a natural, gentle remedy for pain, stress, addiction, or any number of neurological or physical injuries, including joint problems.

At the core of Aquatic Therapy practices is the ideal medium of warm water. If you’ve ever let yourself float on the surface of a heated pool or relaxed in a hot spring, you’ve likely felt buoyant, calm, and centered –a state that Aquatic Therapy uses to allow for less stressful treatment and greater mindfulness than traditional therapies typically provide. Just as important as the water itself is the temperature, which may be responsible for far more than simple relaxation. The specific environment that warm water provides has been shown to reduce both systolic and diastolic blood pressure, raise core temperature, and support the body’s ability to protect and heal itself.1 These benefits were once thought to primarily affect younger populations, but recent research shows that people over 50 reap the same rewards.2

Elina Root photo of Marlene_senior - CopyIt is within this healing, restorative context that an Aquatic Therapist goes to work. As with most modes of treatment, Aquatic Therapy employs a number of specific techniques to deliver symptom relief and promote healing. Chief among the techniques used by Aquatic Therapists today are Watsu®, Aquatic Integration™, Water Tai Chi, Correct Postural Awareness, and Core and Spinal Strengthening, each of which focus on a certain client goal. Each technique can be personalized to address specific concerns and encourages the mind-body connection, promoting balance inside and out. Likened to shiatsu principles of massage and yogic stretching transformed by its warm water setting, Watsu® combined with Aquatic Integration™ is often indicated for pain and stress relief, while Water Tai Chi incorporates gentle yet effective exercise ideal for those struggling with range of motion, balance, and mobility. Correct Postural Awareness along with Core and Spinal Strengthening, as the names suggest, develop a more resilient and powerful base from which to work on an array of physical issues.

Treading the fields of maturity –both of body and mind– leaves many feeling tired, sore, more susceptible to illness, and often enough involves chronic, unpleasant afflictions. For most of these concerns, there’s simply no quick fix, no pill to be swallowed or procedure to send all of the symptoms packing. But through approaching ages-old therapies and exercises merged with the healing properties of warm water, those finding the aging process uncomfortable at best may be able to find a gentle, safe, and altogether pleasant mode of getting and staying well –one that even, for all its slow movements and easy steps, may result in faster recovery times. A longer life, freedom from pain, and easier enjoyment of everyday life don’t have to be the stuff of complicated cures and invasive treatments. For many, achieving these goals is simple once they get into the water.

 

Reference:

1., 2.: Hildebrand, Kasee et al., “Age-Dependent Autonomic Changes Following Immersion in Cool, Neutral, and Warm Water Temperatures.” International Journal of Aquatic Research and Education 4 (2010): 127-146.

Elina Root, Licensed CA Massage Therapist and Certified Watsu Practitioner

An Aquatic Therapist and owner of Aqua Care for Me, a Los Angeles-based AT center, Elina Root has been studying and practicing the principles of water-based healing for over a decade. http://www.aquacareforme.com/.

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Warm Water Wonders: Aquatic Therapy for Mature Minds and Bodies