Northeast Wisconsin
  • Northeast Wisconsin
  • August 2018
Written by 

Aquatic exercise and recovery: A wave of options to consider

Suffering an injury, managing a pre-existing condition or recuperating from surgery can take a toll on our bodies, inevitably leaving us with the larger task of finding ways to recover and regain strength, mobility and adopt a new plan of maintaining our health. Fortunately, warm water exercise offers options that are flexible enough to be effective for different conditions, fitness levels and age.

The key with warm water exercise is that it provides muscle relaxation, gentle resistance and buoyancy. Once the muscles are relaxed, people often find they are able to gain more range of motion and move more in the water with less pain, which is important during any type of recovery process. Decreased muscle tension also increases the ability to stretch muscles meaning you are able to try new exercises and push yourself a bit further, increasing your heart rate and overall cardiovascular health.

Utilizing aquatic exercise for recovery can also be beneficial when added to a current, land-based form of physical therapy. It can also offer further physical gains once physical therapy is completed.

One-on-one time

If you aren’t sure where to start, or are unfamiliar with warm water therapy, working with a private physical therapist that specializes in aquatics or an adaptive aquatic specialist certified in aquatic therapy can be a good choice. If you are already receiving land-based physical therapy, talk to your therapist about adding in aquatic exercise, as therapists can work together to help you achieve better results.

Working one-on-one gives you the opportunity to set personalized goals that help you work toward mobility, strength, balance and coordination at your own pace. Private instruction also gives you the time to ask questions, and zero in on learning proper technique, eventually adding in exercises that you can do on your own to keep you challenged as you progress.

Specialized exercise

These classes are typically held in a group setting where exercises focus on a specific health condition such as back, hip or knees. Specialized exercise classes are great because instructors spend time addressing common issues and help participants gain the strength, flexibility, stamina and range of motion needed to be mobile on land.

These types of group classes often use equipment like pool noodles, buoyant hand bells and kickboards to add more resistance and help build muscle strength while keeping classes interesting and challenging.

In addition, there are other specialized classes that focus on certain health conditions like post stroke, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s. These classes address overall pain management and common challenges like balance, posture, walking and coordination.

Don’t neglect wellness

Once you’ve recovered or have seen gains in building strength, aquatic exercise can help maintain your overall health. Taking a wellness class is just as important as the classes you take to aid in recovery because you’re building on your success. Look for classes that focus on cardiovascular and strength training that will keep you challenged. In addition, aquatic exercise provides a social connection, getting you out and meeting new people.

Water is truly a place welcoming to everyone, including those looking for recovery options. The bottom line, aquatic exercise can help you move better and build a stronger you during your recovery process and well after. 

Stacey Swear

Stacey is a certified senior fitness and group exercise instructor by the National Exercise Trainer’s Association (NETA) as well as a licensed Aqua Zumba instructor. Stacey has been in the aquatics industry for more than 10 years and has worked at CP’s Aquatic Center for four years. For more information, visit or call 920-337-1122.

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