How to Get Kids into the Pool!

A beautiful summer day, a warm pool awaiting just steps away in the backyard, and kids be like, ‘meh’. Sound familiar?

Most kids do enjoy a pool, but with so many modern distractions, you might have to lobby on behalf of your pool with some fun activity.

Here’s a few sure-fire tips to get kids into the pool this summer.

Weekly Pool Parties

Not a big pool party, just a regular time each week where you have lunch or dinner by the pool, or games in the pool. Just you and the kids – your own little party.

To make it more exciting, invite a few of your child’s friends from school or around the block to join in the short soiree.

Weekly Swim Lessons

We’ve suggested before that every child should have a full set of (8-12) swim lessons each year, until they develop full swimming and water safety skills. Many parents don’t feel qualified or may get better results from lessons outside the home, but it’s not hard to teach your kids how to swim.

Take a look at these swim lesson plans we wrote up a few years ago, and spend some quality time each week in the pool, mastering swim basics and later, swim stroke development.

Underwater Photos

Underwater cameras are still available at drug stores and novelty shops, or you can get a waterproof phone case, to take fun underwater photography.

underwater-photo-istkThen plug into your computer and download the pictures from the phone (or take the disposable underwater camera back to the drug store for developing). Underwater pool pictures are really fun for everyone.

Fun Floats and Pool Toys

Caution, here comes the sales pitch, because we just happen to have a huge selection of fun inflatable floats and durable pool toys that will keep your kids busy in the pool for hours.

One of my favorite pool floats is the Aqua Rocker, or the new inflatable jumbo Pizza Slices. And for pool toys, you can’t go wrong with dive sticks, pool balls or just a few pool noodles.

Pool Water Sports Games

Pool Sports Games include pool basketball, volleyball and water polo. For kids of all ages, and everyone already knows how to play!

I very recently wrote all about pool games in 3 price ranges, from budget games to high end pool water sports games.

Free Fun & Games

You don’t need to spend any money at all to have fun in the pool. Younger kids can use some direction to help them play all those fun games in the pool that don’t require equipment or complicated rules. And remember, it’s twice as much fun if mom or dad gets in the pool too!

You could have a session of Marco Polo for starters, then proceed to a rousing game of Sharks & Minnows. How about a game of Freeze Tag, or a Cannonball Contest?

Friends, Family & Neighbors

Finally, invite your family, friends and neighbors who have children the same age as your kids. It’s a good way to show your kids that you also enjoy the pool.

When your friends, family or neighbors come over with kids in swim suits and towels, it’s hard for any kid to resist jumping in the pool! Relax about ‘entertaining’ your guests, but watch the swimmers closely.

If none of these tips encourages your kid to get into the pool, try throwing your pocket change into the pool. If that doesn’t work, may I suggest a complete ban on electronic devices for the summer? 😉


Davy Merino
InTheSwim Blog Editor





Landscape Lighting Tips from the Pros

landscape-lighting-around-the-poolLandscape lighting is one of those details that can really make a backyard… shine!

Use landscape lighting to accentuate various features; plants/trees, outdoor art, water features or walkways.

lightbulb-icon-istkUSE MORE THAN ONE LIGHT

"If you wish to highlight a single item in your garden like a statue, gazing ball or fountain, you should consider using a few landscape lighting fixtures with lower intensity bulbs. Place these at various angles and distances. A single bright light shining directly on the object will create harsh shadows." Sandra Peterson,

lightbulb-icon-istkMAKE A SKETCH OF THE YARD

"After you have defined your reasons for wanting to add landscape lighting, sketch your yard. Include in the sketch existing lights, buildings, benches, trees and shrubs, as well as the vegetation and decorations in the garden. Each of these items will reflect light or absorb it. Estimate the height of each of the objects, especially the foliage." Sandra Peterson,

lightbulb-icon-istkHIDE THE SPOT LIGHTS

"In order to hide light fixtures so they're not noticeable day or night, pile rocks around the fixture or use light shields. At night you'll see the light peeking out from the rocks, giving its magical look to the stone, and nobody gets glare in their eye, no matter how they look at the fountain." - Michael Sestak, Designer

lightbulb-icon-istkAVOID LIGHT POLLUTION

"Aim lights carefully. Position lights at night and check their position frequently.

Shield bulbs. Use fixtures that have reflectors and shielding to concentrate light where you want it.

Minimize wattage. Higher wattage will create harsher light without improving aesthetics or increasing safety. 

Control the light. Separately zoned lights with timers, controls, dimmers, or motion sensors will turn on lights only when needed." 

- Kelly Roberson, Better Homes & Gardens

lightbulb-icon-istkADD LIGHT, NOT ENERGY

"One of the simplest ways to save on electricity costs is to use a photocell, when it becomes dark or daylight, the photocell automatically turns the lights on and off. Another common type of control is a timer that turns the lights on and off at specific times." Joe Rey-Barreau, American Lighting Assn

lightbulb-icon-istkA LITTLE LIGHT GOES A LONG WAY

"When laying out your project, remember a little light goes a long way outdoors. I see this happen a lot with path lighting, folks will place fixtures six to eight feet apart when lighting a sidewalk, and they end up using 10 fixtures for a 50- to 60-foot path. That path can easily be illuminated with three to four fixtures." - Lew Waltz, Hadco Lighting

lightbulb-icon-istkHOW DOES IT LOOK FROM THE HOUSE?

"What's it look like from the inside? Consider how patio spaces, gardens and pathways look like from inside your home. Light gardens or shrubbery that can be seen from living or dining rooms give a room-expanding view to the outside at night." - Mark Raissen, Lamps Plus


"Mount shielded bullet fixtures up in taller trees to shine down, like moonlight, on a shorter tree or nearby shrubs. The downlight passes through branches and leaves, casting an interesting pattern of shadows. For a backlit effect, put the light source between the object you want to highlight and a wall or fence." - Lloyd Reeder, Greenlee Lighting


"Low lights on the far end of the pool, pointing away from the pool, to highlight a focal point, or to simply wash across the back fence, can make a soothing glow across the pool, when viewed from inside the house or on the back patio." - Janet Strait, Lightscapers, inc.

If your backyard is dark at night, make your pool pop with a few well placed lights to create visual interest or highlight focal points, and also improve pool safety by lighting up dark areas.

Dana Katz
InTheSwim Staff Blogger


Homemade Ice Cream Pool Party

ice-cream-in-a-bagLooking for a fun and easy pool party idea? Look no further than homemade ice cream – in a bag!

Not heard about Ice Cream in a Bag? I hadn’t either until we tried it last summer as an activity for our 9 year old’s birthday [pool] party.

All you need is two ziploc bags, and some basic ingredients, and you don’t need an ice cream making machine!


This super easy recipe comes from Superblues, home of Washington Blueberries.

Supplies: 1 gallon ziploc bag, and 1 quart ziploc bag. 12 cups of ice cubes and 1/2 cup of rock salt, or Kosher salt.

Ingredients: 1 cup Half & Half (or heavy cream), 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 2 tablespoons of sugar.

Pour the Ice cubes into the large ziploc bag and add 1/2 cup rock salt, mixing it well. The salt will slightly melt the ice, yet drive the temperature below freezing – Science!

In a separate bag, mix up half and half and sugar, and add vanilla. You can also add cocoa, small candies, crushed cookies or frozen fruit pieces.



Place the smaller ziploc bag of ingredients inside of the larger bag of salted ice, and knead them together for about 10 minutes, until the cream begins to solidify.

Top your ice cream with fresh fruit, granola or colorful sprinkles, or just eat it plain! Each bag makes about 1 cup of ‘iced cream’.


Thanks to Washington Blueberries for putting together the great video on how to make your own vanilla ice cream – in a bag!

PRO TIP: Plan on one ice cream in a bag for each kid, so that everyone can make and then eat their own creation!


Davy Merino
InTheSwim Blog Editor


Water Yoga in the Pool

aqua-yoga-poses---istkWhat is Water Yoga? Regular yoga, without that pesky gravity! Familiar yoga poses or stances done in the shallow end of the pool.

Water’s natural buoyancy makes it easier to stretch into position, and reduces any risk of falling or twisted ankles.

Only standing poses are used for aqua yoga, you shouldn’t try underwater breath holding poses, which could be dangerous.

Here’s a collection of six water yoga poses you can do in the pool. Make it more fun by inviting friends and family!


TREE: With one foot placed firmly on the inside of the opposite knee, bring your hands together, and hold balanced on one leg. Hold the pose while breathe deeply for 5 cycles, and then slowly return to a standing position. Switch legs and repeat. Can modify with hands above head.



LUNGE: With rear foot turned sideways, and front foot pointed forward, move slowly into a lunge position, so your front thigh is parallel to the floor. Reach up and out with arms to stretch the spine. Breathe deeply 5 times, and return to a standing position. Switch legs and repeat.



HAND TO TOE: Raise your foot and grab your toes, then extend your foot to the front, or out to one side. Try to keep the leg straight, while balancing on one foot. Hold the position for 5 deep breaths and return to a standing position. Switch legs and repeat. Can modify with bending head to foot.



CHAIR: Keeping your feet parallel and flat on the floor, sit the hips down, and reach forward with your fingertips, keeping the spine straight. Hold the pose for 10 breaths and slowly return to a standing position. Beginners can start by holding onto the pool edge. Modify with more or less distance between the feet.



WARRIOR:  A good pose for most major muscle groups, and is a low-difficulty pose. Step forward into a lunge, with both feet facing forward. Reach fingers to the sky as you sink forward onto your front foot. Hold for 5 breaths and return to a standing position. Switch legs and repeat. Can modify with arms kept parallel to floor.



BIG STEP: Place your front foot above the water level or at the height that is comfortable for you. Turn your back foot sideways and lean back while keeping your arms straight. Sink slowly towards the wall and breathe 5 times deeply and return to a starting position. Switch legs and repeat. Modify with arms kept parallel to floor.

TIP: Pool noodles are great for support and balance, especially if you are new to yoga, but also help when learning advanced poses.

Turn your pool into a yoga studio this summer, and enjoy the many health benefits of water yoga, in your own pool! Invite a friend or two for safety and for company!


Dana Katz
InTheSwim Staff Blogger


Pool Water Sports Games

To get more fun out of your pool, you’ve got to put more fun in the pool! Water Sports games include pool basketball and pool volleyball, but also water polo, pool golf or just a game of catch with a pool ball.

We’ve got dozens of pool sports games to choose from. To make it easier, here’s my favorites in 3 price levels, Budget, Mid-Range and High End pool sports games.

Budget Pool Games

Floating Pool Basketball

Floating pool basketball gamePVC frame is supported by 3 foam segments, to stay floating upright.

A floating basketball game offers 360° play action, and the rim sits 2 feet off the water surface.

Includes mini play ball and poly net as a complete set. $23

Jammin Poolside Basketball

jammin-poolside-basketballJammin Poolside Basketball sets are made for serious fun!

We have two versions of the Jammin Poolside Basketball, for both above ground and inground pools.

Adjustable height backboard and rim of thick blow molded resin. $53

Fun Inflatable Goals Game

fun-goals-game-for-poolsI wish we had these when I was a kid! We got yelled at for using lounge chairs!

Inflatable goal with sand bag weights, and a mini water polo ball.

Take shots on goal in the deep end for extra challenge and exercise. $20

Pro Island Pool Golf

pro-chip-island-gof-game-for-poolsAnd since we’re looking beyond pool basketball and volleyball…

Spring Float design by Swimways is a floating golf green that catches velcro covered wiffle balls (included).

Practice your chip shots onto the Pro Island Pool Golf green. $47


Mid-Price Pool Games

Pro Side LED Lighted Pool Basketball

pro-side-led-lighted-pool-basketball-gameOne of the coolest new toys this year, the LED lighted pool basketball game lets the games to continue after dark!

Super tall base, 26″, is filled with water or sand for a sturdy ballast.

40″ backboard, steel rim and nylon net and game ball included. $180

Cool Jam Pro Basketball

Cool-Jam-Pro-pool-basketball-gameCool Jam Pro by Swimline is a design that stands up to demanding play.

Sturdy footprint, and solid blow molded panels which when full of water, is almost impossible to move.

Regulation game ball and metal rim, with 44″ wide backboard. $200

In Ground Pool Volleyball Game

inground-pool-volleyball-gamePool volleyball set includes 2 side bases, a 25′ net and volley game ball.

Just fill up the side bases with water or sand/gravel, string the net across the pool and let the fun begin.

Economical set fits inground pools up to 20′ wide. $75

Pool Volleyball and Basketball Combo

pool-volleyball-and-basketball-combo-gameWhy choose between basketball or volleyball when you can have both?

The basketball game quickly transforms into a volleyball game with just a few Insta-Snap connections.

Set includes 25′ net and two balls for volleyball, and basketball! $110


High End Pool Games

Splash & Slam Pool Basketball

splash-and-slam-pool-basketballSplash & Slam is the set you see at commercial swim clubs, with the iconic blue rim and pool basketball.

Backboard adjusts from 2- 6 ft above the deck, and 500lb base holds it steady.

Regulation sized 18″ steel rim and game ball with a 3 yr warranty. $850

Deck Mounted Basketball

deck-mounted-pool-basketball-gameOooh! Stainless steel support legs and a clear acrylic backboard.

Choose from in-deck for cut-out and concrete repour, or on-deck for surface mounting. Includes anchors and rings.

Backboard and poles can be quickly removed for storage. $700

Deck Mounted Volleyball

deck-mounted-pool-volleyball-gameFor serious pool volleyball, with a full 16′ x 3′ tournament net, stainless poles.

Choose from in-deck for cut-out and concrete repour, or on-deck for surface mounting. Includes anchors and rings.

Poles can be quickly set-up and removed, or left in place. $320

Floating Golf Green

floating-golf-green-for-poolWhen you graduate from the Pro Island golf game, here’s the real deal.

5″ tall green is foam topped with premium synthetic grass, to perform like a real golf green.

Set includes 12 heavy plastic golf balls (no Velcro), tee box and flag pole. $420


No matter what your budget is for summer fun, InTheSwim’s gotcha covered for pool sports, basketball, volleyball and pool golf!

Even though none of these pool water sports has been added to this year’s Olympics, don’t let that stop you from using them in your own backyard pool Olympic games this summer!


Davy Merino
InTheSwim Blog Editor



Pool Party! Pop-Up Pool Movie Party

dive-in-movie-pool-partyTake your pool fun to a whole new level, and host your own Dive-In movie night, in your own backyard!

There’s a few ways to make it happen, but the basic elements are a screen and projector, set up in a suitably dark area.

How to Host a Pool Movie Party

First, decide how you want to play the movie, you can rent equipment, buy equipment, or use equipment you already have.

Jumbo Inflatable Screen Rentals: This is an easy way to get the complete package. Technicians arrive and inflate a huge screen, set up a DVD player and speakers, and then return to take it all away. Search online for inflatable screen rentals in your area. Prices start at around $400 for a double feature.

Move Your Big Screen TV Outside: If the weather is nice, and your jumbo screen can be safely removed to a protected location outside, this can be an option for showing movies during a pool party. Place planters or other barriers around the TV to keep kids from getting too close to the equipment.

Movie Screen and Projector: You can buy a very nice projector nowadays for $300, and a large screen for $100. Or you can rent a projector from most any equipment rental shop. Projectors sit about 8 to 18 feet in front of the screen, or you can rent rear projection screens. Oh, and you don’t need a real movie screen, you can use a large sheet or even a light colored wall.

Secondly, since this is a party, add some ‘theme’ to make the evening more memorable and more theater-like.

Pool Floats and Lounges: you need some comfortable theater quality seats for your party guests. Pool floats, lounges and inflatable chairs or mattresses are an important element to a successful pool movie party!

Theater Treats: What’s a movie without popcorn? It’s OK if some of it gets into the pool. And how about Junior Mints or JuJuBees? Grapes are also a good movie snack food, and pool friendly – lost grapes just float into the skimmer.

Lighting: String lighting or Tiki Torches can really add a party vibe to the backyard. Turn off the patio lights, and keep the screen area dark (not like the picture above), so the screen is easier to see.

pool-movie-partyYou can add some other fun flair like collecting movie ‘tickets’, dressed in a vest and bow tie, and announcing the start of the show. Be sure to actively supervise your patrons during the show.

Great for Birthday parties, or community events, or just a fun alternative to the normal movie routine at home – having a pool movie party is always fun!


Davy Merino
InTheSwim Blog Editor


Pool Filter Sand


Sand filters are the most common pool filter in America, and one of the easiest to operate.

Filter sand is also very common, but not the easiest filter media to replace.

If you are wondering about why, what, when and how much filter sand, you are in the right classroom!

Why Change Pool Filter Sand?

  • New filter sand has sharp, crisp edges that stack well into layers. Old sand has rounded edges that don’t filter the water as well.
  • Oily dirt, dead algae, and other gummy residues build up and are pushed deeper into the sand bed with each backwashing.
  • Small amounts of sand can be lost during backwashing, and over many years time, can add up to a considerable loss.

When to Change Pool Filter Sand?

This depends on the size of your sand filter in relation to the pool, but somewhere between 2-7 years.

pool-sand-filter-cutaway-2Small sand filters of 16″, 18″ or 21″ diameter need to replace the sand more often, every 2-5 years, sooner if the pool is used heavily, or has sticky tree debris, or a pump that is too large for the filter size.

Larger sand filters with 24″ to 36″ diameter tanks can often go longer between sand changes, simply because of the larger filter area. 5-7 years is the normal interval for larger sand filters.

The best time to replace filter sand is before you need to, but… if you notice poor water quality, short filter cycles (time between backwashes), or dirt passing through the filter, it may be time to replace the filter sand.

What Type of Sand for Pool Filters?

Our help files have stories of some who have inadvertently added the wrong type of sand to their pool filter. Masonry sand or Play sand won’t work in a pool filter, use only a high quality Pool Filter Sand.

Pool Filter Sand, is specifically graded silicone quartz, .45-.55 mm in size, otherwise known commercially as #20 silica sand. You will find it to be clearly labeled Pool Filter Sand. aquaquartz-pool-filter-sand-thin

Our help files also have a few entries of folks who purchased a cheap product ($5) labeled pool filter sand, that turned out to be a very poor substitute. Buying a well known brand of pool filter sand from a pool retailer you trust may make a difference in the quality and cleanliness of the filter sand you buy.

How Much Sand to Add to Pool Filters?

Sand filters are not filled completely full of sand, but only about 2/3 full, to allow “Freeboard” space in the tank, above the sand bed.

Your manufacturer will list the amount of sand required on their website, usually on the brochure or spec sheet, or you can find it with a quick google search with your filter make/

Or, you can refer to the pool filter sand chart here. You need to know the tank diameter, which is often reflected in the filter model number, or can be found on the manufacturer spec sheet. Or you can measure the tank with a ruler.

How to Change Pool Filter Sand?

How to actually change the filter sand – that’s a whole ‘nother topic that we’ve talked about here, and also here.You may be interested in a post I wrote about how to improve sand filtration or information about pool filter sand alternatives like ZeoSand or FilterGlass.

That’s all for today students, class dismissed!

Dr. Pool

Dr. Pool


Water Workout Calorie Burn Guide

As the weather warms up, it’s hard not to want to spend all of our time outdoors. Whether we are relaxing in the sun, or going for a jog, this weather calls to us! But what to do when you love the sun, but it’s too hot and miserable? Water Exercise of course! Let me introduce you to some great water workouts and the amount of calories burned, while staying cool in the pool!

Simple Swimming

calories-burned-per-hour-swimming chart
Our first exercise is very simple! One of the best ways to get a full body workout in the pool, is by simply swimming. Not only does this work out arms and legs, but it gives a killer ab workout as well. You can swim from one end of the pool to the other, the perimeter or your pool, or if you have a water resistance belt, you can swim in place. This helps burn major calories, and keeps pressure off your body for those of you coming back from or battling injuries.

Treading Water

calories-burned-treading-waterTreading water is another great full body exercise. Not only can it provide great practice if you are ever stuck out deep at sea, but It can strengthen your core which can help build muscle in all other areas of your body. Try not to overexert the legs, but balance your feet, legs and arms in a rhythm. Bonus points for burst intervals where you tread as fast as you can ’til time is up! Triple bonus points if you wear our AquaJogger Water Fitness Belt while doing this water exercise!

Water Walking

I’m sure you already know how to walk; but water walking may be something new! In waist to chest deep water, walk with an exaggerated gait, swinging your arms and stepping high. Lean slightly forward and lead with your chin as you jog (or walk) back and forth across the pool, or in a large circle pattern. For added buoyancy, straddle a pool noodle or use a pool exercise belt, which allows you to do Water Jogging in deeper water, without touching the floor.

Pool Lunges

Our third exercise is one that should be done when you are in a section of the pool where the water is waist deep. Similar to normal lunges, alternate lunging your right and left foot forward, bending at the knee, keeping the opposite thigh parallel to the floor. Water lunges take this same exercise, but put it under water. This allows the body to strengthen your thighs without putting excess strain on the knee. As a runner, this is one of my favorite workouts in the pool!

Pool Squats

Squats can be one of the most dreaded exercises! We all know that they help build strong glutes, but can be tough on the knees. However, when you do Pool Squats in shallow water, the stress on the knees becomes very minimal. Just like a normal squat, begin in the standing position. From there, bend at the hips and knees, until your thighs are parallel to the floor, or just enough to feel the burn. Once you have mastered the normal squat, you can challenge yourself by adding handheld weights.

The weather is getting hotter, be sure to take advantage of your pool this summer, and burn some calories!

If you are just starting back to exercise, take it slow and steady, and work up to longer sessions, and for safety’s sake (and just for fun), get a pool workout partner!


Dana Katz
InTheSwim Staff Blogger


Waterproof Music for your Pool

high-school-musical-pool-sceneAdding music to your pool is a lot easier than the ‘pool scene’ from High School Musical, and you don’t need supporting cast!

Today we look at the best waterproof music devices, for adding a soundtrack to your pool time and other outdoor pursuits.

Waterproof Speakers

Waterproof speakers are the first order of business. Outdoor speakers are not all waterproof, and not all are Bluetooth enabled, but here’s 3 that are!

AudioBOMB Speakers

whaley-speakerPortable, rubber covered speakers go anywhere, even underwater! The Whaley and Squishy Bluetooth speakers can play for up to ten hours on a rechargeable battery. Connect 2 or more together easily for bigger sound. Priced from $30.

Patio Speakers

rock-speaker-for-poolsIf you have an existing sound system in the home, extend it outside with outdoor speakers. Typical mounting is under the roof eave, or use free standing speakers or faux rock speakers, to tuck into the landscaping. Priced from $100.

Floating Speakers

floating-speaker-and-lightshowFloating Bluetooth speakers are a fun way to enjoy your playlist or listen to the radio by the pool or in the backyard. Our Floating Speaker & Lightshow plays music from the top, and displays color light patterns below. $60.

Underwater Speakers

underwater-speakers-for-poolsUnderwater speakers are the newest high end pool accessory. The surprise is that the sound quality is really good underwater, not warped as you may think. Underwater pool speakers mount in pool light niches or Lubell makes a free standing unit. Priced from $1500.

Waterproof MP3 Players

For those who like to listen to music while swimming laps or while engaged in other wet endeavors, waterproof MP3 players let you take your music anywhere, even underwater.

Sony Walkman

sony-walkman-newThis is not your father’s Walkman, today’s Walkman is all about compact wearable music. The Waterproof MP3 player weighs only ounces, and has a fast charging 8 hr lithium battery, and 4 GB storage. Priced from $100.

Swim Buds & Syryn

syryn-waterproof-mp3-playerSyryn MP3 player has 8 GB of storage in a compact waterproof device that clips to your goggles or swim suit. Combine with Swim Buds Original underwater ear buds for endless underwater music. Priced from $60.

Underwater Audio iPod Shuffle

ipod-shuffle-by-underwater-audioUnderwater Audio takes Apple iPod Shuffles and makes them waterproof. 2 GB storage holds hundreds of songs and supports multiple playlists. Includes short cord ear buds and has a 15 hr battery life.  Priced from $125.

Waterproof Music Accessories

Portable Charger

audiobomb-reflex-solar-charger2The Solar Reflex portable charger stores power for the speakers or other devices. Lithium battery can be charged with its solar panel or included Micro USB cable. Charges 2 devices with Dual USB Ports. $40

Device Cases

Turata-Waterproof-case-dry-bag-with-armbandIf you spend a lot of time outdoors, you may consider a waterproof case for your smartphone or tablet. Absolutely water proof (to a certain depth), and also adds some protection from breakage or damage. Priced from $5.


Music has come a long way since the transistor radio, and it’s easier than ever to add a sound track to your life and take your music with you, wherever you go.

rock-and-roll-poolAdd some music to your pool this summer, no matter how you decide to do it!


Davy Merino
InTheSwim Blog Editor



Favorite Water Therapy for Pain Management

Daily pain is a fact of life for millions of Americans, and the healthy way to manage pain is through water therapy, or pool exercises.

As anyone who has ever slipped into a warm tub at the end of a long day knows, water can be incredibly soothing. For people with osteoarthritis or fibromyalgia or lower back pain, water is more than comforting; it provides relief to an aching body and a pain-free way to exercise.

Pool therapy (also known as aqua therapy) is especially beneficial for people with these conditions because the buoyancy of the water helps support a large percentage of their body weight. If even a short walk around the neighborhood is difficult for you, you may be able to improve your strength and endurance through these pool exercises.

Water Therapy and Osteoarthritis

Pool exercises offer people with osteoarthritis an opportunity to stretch their muscles using the gentle resistance of the water.

Once you’re in the water, stretch your lower back as well as your hamstrings by raising your knees up toward your chest. Then, stretch your neck and upper back by standing near one end of the pool, leaning forward, and using your hands to “catch” yourself.

Another good aqua therapy for osteoarthritis is any type of water aerobics. Try walking through the water, working up to a slow jog across the shallow end and any other similar movements that stretch the hips and back and make them more limber.

Using Aqua Exercises for Fibromyalgia

As Complete PT notes, many people who are living with the pain of fibromyalgia find the pool is the only place where they can get relief from their discomfort. A warm-up conducted in the deep end is a low-impact way to exercise and get the body ready for other aqua therapies.

Using a noodle or other similar equipment to keep the head above water, people with fibromyalgia can typically do a variety of warm-up motions and stretches. Once the body is ready, water-power exercises can help alleviate the pain of fibromyalgia; these include quick scissor kicks, deep back kicks, heel lifts and bent-knee twists.

You can do kicking exercises with either a paddle board or with your hands on the steps or side of the pool. If you enjoy lap swimming, use the stroke that is the least painful. In many cases, a backstroke or flutter kick are great choices—they can provide much-needed exercise while not putting a huge strain on shoulders, neck and upper back.

Hot Tub Therapy for Back Pain

People living with osteoarthritis or fibromyalgia usually find that hot water soaking relaxes them and reduces their pain, and the same is true for lower back pain. Hot tubs and spas are outstanding options for water therapy. The moist heat in the warm and bubbly water can help lessen both stiffness and pain, and it also works to boost blood flow to the affected areas.

For those who wish to relax in a hot tub or spa at home, we have a full line of portable spas to choose from, from the Intex PureSpa at only $500, to our full-featured Pacific Spa, for $5K. Home spas and hot tub therapy prescribed by your doctor to treat chronic pain can often be a valid insurance claim or tax deduction, check with your tax adviser for details.

Always talk with your doctor before beginning any new exercise program, and take it easy at first, until you can build up to longer water therapy sessions, with more active water exercises.


Dana Katz
InTheSwim Staff Blogger