Improving Posture With Water
Kim Eichinger, Executive Director of fitness at Country Meadows Retirement Community, and author of the ADVANCE article, Better Posture Through Aquatics, speaks about the benefits of aquatics for aging adults in improving posture.
For the many aging adults who use walkers or other assistive devices, maintaining proper posture is a huge challenge. But, fortunately with the advancement of technology there are opportunities for adults to exercise proper posture and increase balance.
Using an underwater treadmill, residents achieve better results than simply walking in a pool.
Underwater Treadmill Results
Some of these results include:
- People have a more upright posture when walking on the treadmill.
- They walk faster and with more of a natural heel-to-toe fashion.
- They walk with a more natural arm swing.
- Participants who use an underwater treadmill express confidence, thanks to learning a new skill that has increased their health and fitness level.
Investing in the Best Equipment
According to Kim Eichinger, it’s vital to invest in the best equipment with the most valuable features for your residents to generate the best results. These features include removable handrails, variable-speed jets, adjustable speeds and easy-to-operate buttons.
- The Handrails offer comfort to the concern of falling down. In addition, results showed that ‘pushing down on the handrails not only helped posture, but also strengthened the triceps.’
- Resistance Jets offer numerous benefits including the use of deep tissue massages.
- Adjustable Speeds allow the participants to walk faster as they become more comfortable on the underwater treadmill.
How to Improve Posture by Creating Exercise Plans for Patients
As a trainer or therapist, it is important to have an exercise plan for your patients, which may take some time to create. Here are a few suggestions before beginning your therapy program.
- Practice the simple act of stepping onto and down from the stationary belt to ensure the participant feels comfortable.
- Practice stepping from the belt to the outer sides of the stationary belt, allowing participants to learn to move from a narrow stance to a wide stance.
- Perform posture exercises on the stationary belt, making sure they are looking forward and not down.
- Practice working with the individual to reach from handrails to the control buttons.
- Perform warm-up exercises on the stationary belt.
Then as the individuals become more and more comfortable with the underwater treadmill, slowly add more challenging exercises to increase their fitness, posture and confidence!
Learn more about hydrotherapy in the ultimate guide to aquatic therapy.
Symptoms of Bad Posture
Bad posture can cause hunched shoulders, backache, spinal irregularities and a range of other symptoms:
- Body pains
- Muscle weakness or tension
- Tilted head, either forward or backward
- Bent or over-extended knees
- Protruding belly
Aqua therapy helps improve posture, alleviating these symptoms.
The Benefits of Using Hydrotherapy to Improve Posture
Aquatic therapy assists in treating swelling, joint pain and complications of poor posture. It also aids in strengthening muscles and supporting patients’ recovery. Hydrotherapy helps improve posture by:
- Reducing pain: Water applies constant resistance to the body in the form of hydrostatic pressure. Hydrostatic pressure helps dull nerve endings, effectively decreasing muscle pain. The relaxed state enables clinicians to treat the symptoms of poor posture while reducing pain. Alleviated pain is a tangible result that encourages patients to return for further treatment.
- Encouraging the correct stance: Aging adults naturally improve their posture in water, working in the proper stance and building muscles to support the upright body position.
- Promoting muscle relaxation and strength: Bad posture causes muscles to tense or atrophy. The warmth and buoyancy of water enable relaxation and the reduction of spasms, allowing patients to build muscle strength and complete physical therapy without being inhibited. This relaxation translates into greater flexibility and mobility on land.
- Building confidence through mobility: Patients face fewer tripping hazards on an underwater treadmill than they would on land. They walk more confidently, faster, and upright as a result, strengthening the muscles that enable improved posture. The newfound skill of using water exercise also reinforces positivity and increases adherence to physical therapy treatment plans.