Swimming Pool Therapy for Accident Recovery

drpool-med-bookIt should come as no surprise to my regular readers that injury rehab and therapy is appropriate in a swimming pool.

Because swimming in pools can build up muscles and is good for joints, water exercise is often recommended for rehabilitation.

You can understand why – swimming is an activity that increases strength and flexibility, in a low impact and safe environment.

Today’s Health & You topic on swimming and accident recovery will take the following direction:

  1. Injury and Rehab
  2. Specific Exercises
  3. Limitations and Exceptions

bluecrossInjury and Rehab

Physical injuries can sideline you and really interfere with your daily life. Rehabilitation allows your muscles and ligaments to strengthen and provide more support for injured areas.

For all of the varied injuries there are equally as many recommended exercises and activities to help you get back into shape. Among them, swimming seems to have a place in most accident rehab therapies.

Why are pools so advantageous? The buoyancy of water is a force that acts on the body to balance the weight of a swimmer. supporting the body weight. The buoyancy of the water protects joints, while water’s resistance increases the efficiency of the workout.

Water exercise is low impact, meaning it is easier on your body than many other exercises, with less chance of further injury from falls or stumbles. There are many injuries that respond well to water exercises and swimming.

Because swimming is not weight-bearing, it is exceptionally helpful for back pain. Utilizing different swim strokes or positions helps alleviate some pressure in the back, as the water can provide support. The backstroke is helpful for back injuries because you lie in a supine position as opposed to other strokes performed in a prone position.

bluecrossSpecific Water Exercises

There are specific exercises in the pool that do not require swimming. For those regaining strength during accident recovery, effective cardiovascular workouts in the water allow the body to heal while building muscle.

Stronger workouts may include deep water running. Deep water running is the safe alternative to taking it to the streets and offers excellent cardiovascular benefits when done at regular intervals.

Water exercises don’t need to be strenuous to be beneficial. Simple calisthenics in a seated position, back floating, water walking, or kicking exercises are all helpful.

Basic pool exercises for accident recovery focus on gentle movements in shallow water, with support from a therapist, the pool wall or a floatation device, such as a pool noodle.

Example Pool Exercises

knee-lifts-in-the-poolThe Knee-Lift is completed while standing on one leg, knee slightly bent, with your back to the pool wall. Lift the knee up, while holding onto the side of the pool. Lower leg and repeat with the opposite leg. Strengthens and stretches muscles in the leg, hip and the lower portion of the back.

The Leg-Raise exercise is much like the knee-to-chest, only you are stretching out one leg in front of you. This stretches the back and leg joints while building your core strength.

warrior-pose-pool-recoveryThe Warrior Pose is done while standing on one leg, at arm’s length from the pool wall. Lean far forward, touching chin onto water, and stretch back with the opposite leg. This exercise stretches and strengthens all along the body, from head to toe.

The Pool-Walking exercise has you walking back and forth in chest-high water. It works your leg muscles while exerting little impact below the waist, which is especially helpful to most physical therapy programs.

Water-Jogging is a low impact form of jogging. aqua-jogging-for-accident-recoveryThe rules of form on aqua jogging are to maintain an upright body position and a straight back, holding your core muscles tight. Bend the knees 90° and move the arms forward and backwards, without any lateral or twisting movement of the body. A floatation belt can be useful for this type of therapy.

bluecrossLimitations and Exceptions

Be mindful of individual limitations before undertaking water therapy, however. There are exceptions and conditions which should limit or prevent any water activity from occurring. Speak to a [real] doctor or medical professional before beginning accident recovery in a pool.

In many conditions, medical and/or health professionals should be present to offer guidance and support while patients are in the water. In all cases should another person be within arm’s reach to offer assistance.

Water activities should be avoided altogether in rare instances. These instances include fever, severe heart failure, incontinence or infection.

Entering and exiting the pool should be done with assistance, to ensure a safe passage across the pool deck and into the pool, as well as a safe exit to the changing area.

Get your swim on, America!

Dr. Pool

Dr. Pool


"Pool-based Rehab: A Complete Guide." Sports Injuries Advice from Sports Injury Bulletin. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 May 2014. Web.
"Rehab Your Back Injury With Swimming, Not Surgery." Breaking Muscle. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 May 2014. Web.
"Water Therapy Exercises." Spine-health. N.p., n.d. Web.
“Water Therapy Exercise Program.” Spine-Health. Web.
“Water Exercise Therapy Limitations and Considerations.” Spine-Health. Web.



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