Work out in the water for health, healing and injury prevention
By Tracy Dye
In ancient times, people gathered at springs, baths and pools for water’s enigmatic healing properties. Today, the benefits of hydrotherapy aren’t so mysterious. Through scientific research and the use of aquatic exercise as a form of rehabilitative therapy, we have a greater understanding of how water heals.
You don’t have to be a swimmer to enjoy these effects, either.
“When you submerge yourself in water chest-deep, every single one of your systems in your body gains health and healing,” said Linda Phillips, Aquatic Team Leader at Haven on the Lake.
The therapeutic effect of taking a dip can be largely credited to these special components: pressure and buoyancy. Pressure from the water causes an increase in blood flow — approximately 60 percent — to the heart and lungs, forcing both to work harder. From there:
- Blood pressure is lowered
- Muscles become relaxed
- Kidney function increases
- Blood flow deepens within the muscle, creating a more detoxifying effect
“You haven’t even started moving yet,” Phillips said. “This all happens simply by standing in chest-deep water.”
The buoyancy of water offers optimal support, allowing the body to work in ways that cannot be achieved through land-based exercises. Phillips said she has seen individuals with conditions that have led to kyphosis (a pronounced curvature in the spine that causes a hunchback) experience monumental changes while in the water.
“They get in the water and can stand up straight,” Phillips said. “It is good for the skeletal system and postural too…You leave [the water] feeling much more calm, much more grounded.”
So what happens when you start moving in one of Haven’s Aqua classes? Due to the natural resistance created in an aquatic environment, every single movement you make is a strengthening motion.
“The beauty of water exercise is that every reciprocal movement works opposite muscle groups,” Phillips said.
For example, if you perform a bicep curl in the water, you automatically work your tricep as well; a leg lift would strengthen both the inner and outer thigh.
“In the pool, everything is reciprocal, which makes it much easier to have a very balanced exercise program,” Phillips said.
Many mind body modalities have found their way into the water, from yoga to pilates and tai chi. Thanks to the support of an aquatic environment, individuals recovering from injuries can practice exercises safely.
Moreover, exercising in an aquatic environment allows individuals to try out and succeed in movements they may not be able to accomplish on land, such as extended stretching, flips and running.
Haven offers a variety of aqua classes, and more opportunities for water-based wellness activities are on the way, so stay tuned.
Surf and turf
If you’re looking for the ultimate full-body exercise experience, consider surf and turf workouts for total body conditioning. Follow an energizing land-based class with Aqua Yoga to unwind and stretch. Or, you can participate in an Aqua Yoga class to warm the muscles and stretch them before a studio class to achieve the ultimate benefit in your practice.
“One surf and turf combination that seems to be a favorite is the Mat Pilates followed by Aqua Yoga,” Phillips said. “Pilates is of course very good for strengthening the core…and the yoga gives you the breath, gives you the relaxation, gives you the stretch.”
Phillips said the aforementioned combo would be optimal for injury prevention and balance.
You can find a full listing of Haven’s mind body classes here or call 410-715-3020 for more information.
Haven also hosts several events catered to different aspects of wellness to help you recover, rejuvenate and revive. On May 14, Phillips will lead an event on a 10-minute pool program that you can do on your own to bring healing to your hips. The program is perfect if you are seeking relief from hip pain, back pain, would like to avoid hip surgery or if you would simply like to quickly improve your fitness and slim down in the hip area.