Arthritis is a common, painful, and debilitating condition that affects millions of people in the United States. There are many different types of arthritis, but the two most common types are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis, affecting more than 30 million Americans, typically during older age. It is characterized by a gradual deterioration of the cartilage that protects and cushions the ends of your bones.
Rheumatoid arthritis means the body’s immune system is attacking its tissues. Although less common, it can occur at any age and is more common in women than men.
Living With Arthritis
If you are living with arthritis, you are likely experiencing symptoms such as:
- painful joints
- stiff joints
- tender and swollen joints
- decreased range of motion
These symptoms can make it difficult to do everyday activities and get the recommended amount of exercise even more challenging.
Increasing your activity level can be challenging, but it’s essential for maintaining mobility and managing your arthritis symptoms. Water-based therapies, such as hydrotherapy, aquatic therapy, and water aerobics, can greatly increase your activity level while minimizing pain and discomfort.
Hydrotherapy For Arthritis
Water provides gentle resistance and support, which can help to improve range of motion, strength, and aerobic capacity. In addition, the water’s warmth can help relax muscles, improve circulation, and relieve tension. It can significantly reduce your pain, but it can also reduce any anxiety or depression that may accompany your condition.
Hydrotherapy typically happens in a warm pool at a chest-high depth (somewhere between your waist and shoulders). Some people prefer a class or group setting, where they can socialize and share their experiences. It can be done on your own, but it’s usually best to have a trainer or instructor guide you.
Simple Exercises with Great Benefits
Patients with arthritis often report that water-based exercises are much more comfortable and more beneficial than land-based exercises. This is likely because the buoyancy of water decreases stress on the joints, and the water’s resistance gently promotes muscle strengthening.
Simple movements like walking or moving your arms require more effort in the water, providing more benefit without the added stress on your joints. And, as your strength and range of motion improve, you can gradually progress to more challenging exercises, such as kicking and lunges.
If you live with arthritis, don’t let it keep you from being active. Talk to your doctor about trying hydrotherapy to ease your symptoms and improve your quality of life.