Hydrotherapy for People With Multiple Sclerosis

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Exercising in water provides a combination of buoyancy and resistance which creates the perfect environment to build a low-impact movement practice that suits your exercise and fitness requirements.

Being in the water provides some stability and support that can help you to practice functional activities, such as walking, balancing, and squatting movements (that reproduce the action of sitting into and getting out of a chair). The water often provides enough stability for people with MS to balance and stand and allows them to do exercises that might be too difficult to do when standing on land.

How Hydrotherapy Helps People With Multiple Sclerosis

A hydrotherapy program can include aerobic, strengthening, balance, and stretching exercises. This can help you to stay mobile; increase strength, flexibility, and cardiovascular fitness; improve coordination; manage weight; reduce stress; and avoid secondary symptoms of MS. 

In addition, less energy is required to complete movements in the water so exercise can be less fatiguing; you are guaranteed a soft landing if you fall (although you may get your hair wet); you can do some weight-bearing exercise with your legs; the pressure from the water combined with movement in the water helps to increase circulation and move lymphatic fluid through the body.

Things to Consider During Hydrotherapy

Here are a few things we need to consider:

  • Be mindful of losing your balance due to the extra buoyancy in deep water or when using floatation devices, such as pool noodles, kickboards, and dumbbells;
  • You may experience muscle weakness and fatigue when working hard in warm water;
  • Incontinence;
  • Skin breakdown;
  • Maintaining posture in deeper water (above hip height) can be tricky because of the effect of the water’s buoyancy on your centre of gravity. Exercising in water feels different and can take a bit of getting used to.
  • Doing physical activity, such as hydrotherapy can improve your mobility, making transfers, walking, and climbing stairs easier. It’s also great for your physical fitness, heart, and mental health.