Versus arthritis describes hydrotherapy as ‘the use of water in the treatment of different conditions, including arthritis and related rheumatic complaints. … it differs from swimming because it involves special exercises that you do in a warm water pool.’
Hydrotherapy is recommended for PoTS and chronic pain as it reduces the pressure put on joints and the pressure of the water helps regulate symptoms of orthostatic intolerance, as the blood vessels compress better in water. specialist hydrotherapy is done with trained physiotherapists and it very gentle , which is great if you are working on getting back into exercise at a slow place.
I personally attend water workouts at my local leisure centre, as i was only recently given the all clear to start slow gentle exercises and due to covid there weren’t many options available. Specialist hydrotherapy can be expensive, depending on where you are, and local water workouts are quite cheap and very effective.
How i started and my experience :
Firstly, it is necessary to have permission from your doctor(s). Being safe is so important and remember it is okay if they say no, it’s for your own benefit. It took me months on end to come to this position and I’m glad I waited. With my doctor(s) support, I sorted out my medicines, finished 1, increased and added others, and worked on very gentle supine exercises first. This included light stretching and physiotherapy approved exercises just to get my body moving.
I then did some research, for a long while, and found water workouts at a local leisure centre. This is once a week, for 45 mins. Before my first session i ensured i ate well, had a good nights sleep, drank plenty of water etc.
During my first session i took it very slow. This wasn’t lead by a physiotherapist but was easy as it was all older ladies. I attempted each exercise but didn’t do great the first 2/3 times. Slow is fine, you have to go at your own pace. At first, I found it a little difficult and i was afraid of injuring myself (yay for HEDS - fragile joints/muscles), so i spent a lot of time just floating around. Before my 2nd session i spoke to the instructor and told her about my conditions and that i may just float about and be slower than others (even though everyone else is a lot older than me and i was a little anxious), but she was so nice and told me it’s okay for me to do what works for me.
I’m now about 5 sessions in and i can definitely do a lot more than when i started. I can keep up (most of the time) with the instructor. There are still some things I can’t do as well, but i’m proud of my progress so far. My body, overall, definitely hurts a lot less than if I’d do exercise on land. Even my dodgy shoulder, knee that slips and clicks and injured foot, don’t hurt in the water, the main is very minimal. The heart that once ran a marathon every day all day, has slowed with the medication, but would still struggle with normal exercising, behaves so well in water. I don’t get as tired or as out of breath. Afterwards, i am a tiny bit sore so resting is important but it is definitely not as bad as exercising otherwise.
I am hoping to start going twice a week. Outside of water workouts, i‘ve started walking more and want to start exercising at home again. Everything in its own time. I 100% do recommend water therapy for my fellow spoonies, if they feel up to it ! I can’t swim and it is fine as it isn‘t required. I just stand in the corner next to the wall.