Hydrotherapy is a form of therapy that is designed to treat or manage injuries and chronic pain using massage and exercises that are performed in water. It utilizes some of the properties of water to allow exercises to be safely performed with reduced impact and greater safety while also helping to increase blood flow and circulation; aiding in the healing process. In this article, we will explore the advantages of hydrotherapy and see if swim spas are capable of providing an effective hydrotherapy experience. But first, what is hydrotherapy able to treat?
What Is Hydrotherapy Useful For?
Hydrotherapy is effective in helping manage chronic pain and can also aid in injury recovery. There are a few reasons for this:
- The buoyancy that water provides reduces pressure on joints while helping to support body weight.
- This can help to ease joint pain that is a common symptom of chronic pain conditions.
- Water also provides a natural resistance that muscles can work against; with the level of resistance limited by the amount of force the body is able to generate. This reduces the chance of further injury caused by taking on more than the body is able to handle.
- Warm water warms up your muscles in preparation for more strenuous exercise. It also helps to improve blood flow and circulation, which can speed up the healing process and improve chronic pain symptoms.
Simply put, when it comes to injury recovery and pain reduction, hydrotherapy is hard to beat.
Components Of A Good Swim Spa Hydrotherapy System
Now that we know the benefits that hydrotherapy can provide, how do we determine what provides a good hydrotherapy experience?
In our opinion, a good hydrotherapy experience requires:
- Warm water.
- Enough room to complete your exercises.
- Effective massage therapy.
Most swim spas are large enough to complete the stretches and exercises needed to recover from muscle injuries, and all of them are able to keep their water heated to a therapeutic level. The main difference between different swim spas when it comes to hydrotherapy is, therefore, their massage therapy experiences.
Swim Spa Massage Therapy
The perfect hydrotherapy massage experience has to be:
- Powerful. You need enough power coming out of the jets to properly massage the muscle.
- Balance. All of the jets should have the same amount of power.
- Precise. The jets should massage be properly placed so they’re hitting the right muscles.
When it comes to hydrotherapy, it all starts with the massage pumps. Simply put, if the massage pumps aren’t strong enough, the jets won’t have enough power to provide a proper massage. Fortunately, most swim spas have powerful swim pumps that have more than enough available power to deliver an effective massage.
Unfortunately, some swim spas aren’t able to translate that power properly to their massage jets. While often overlooked, the layout of the plumbing can make a big difference in the quality of a massage. Basically, the longer the distance the water has to travel from the pumps to the jets, the less power they will have. Too many 90 degree elbows in the plumbing can also really negatively affect massage power.
Not only does inefficient plumbing cause your swim spa’s hydrotherapy system to lose power, it can also lead to varying power between jets with ones closer to the pumps being at full power and others that are further away left feeling noticeably weaker.
Probably the most critical component of a swim spa’s hydrotherapy experience is the massage jets. When looking at the jets there are 3 things you should be considering.
1) The Number Of Jets
When looking at the number of jets in a swim spa, it is not always a case of more is better. While you definitely want to make sure that there are plenty of jets, you should be more concerned with the number of jets per seat, rather than the overall number of jets listed in the brochure. For example, a swim spa with 2 massage seats and 30 jets will often outperform a swim spa with 4 massage seats and 45 jets because there are more jets in each seat.
2) The Placement Of The Jets
Simply put, if the jets don’t hit you in the right spots they’re not really doing much good. Look for jets that follow the natural curves of your body (wider at the shoulders, narrower down the back) rather than ones laid out in straight lines or diamond shapes. These other arrangements can look impressive, but don’t provide any real therapeutic benefit.
3) The Size Of The Jets
Another important thing to consider is the size of the jets. The larger the muscle group a jet is targeting, the larger it should be. Jets targeting your neck, wrists, and legs should be smaller to ensure that they’re hitting the right spots. Jets targeting your back should be larger to ensure that they properly treat the whole muscle.
Swim spas are unique in that they provide both a massage experience and an aqua fitness experience. This gives you an environment to both relax and soothe sore muscles, build strength and recover from injuries in a low-impact environment.
If you’re hoping to use your swim spa for swim training, you will also want to look closely at the swim current systems of each swim spa you’re considering. The swim spa should provide a current which is smooth, powerful and as wide as possible.
The issue with many swim spa currents is that they are turbulent and quite narrow. This makes for a poor swimming experience as you constantly fight the turbulence to stay within the narrow current. To avoid this we recommend looking for wide swim jets that break up and smooth out the natural turbulence of currents created by swim pumps. For more information, check out this article about swim spa current systems.
So Are Swim Spas Good For Hydrotherapy?
There are several reasons why someone might want to seek hydrotherapy; the most common ones being relaxation, managing chronic pain, recovering from injuries and safely building strength in a low-impact environment. No matter your reason for seeking hydrotherapy, swim spas provide an ideal hydrotherapy experience.
For those looking simply to relax, swim spas provide massage therapy and a nice, warm environment to soothe tense muscles. The warm water, buoyancy and massage therapy provided by swim spas is also effective in managing chronic pain.
For those looking to recover from injuries or improve muscle strength, swim spas also provide a low-impact environment in which to do your exercises. The improved circulation that the warm water provides also can help in the healing process.
If you’re interested in learning more about swim spas and how they can help you in your hydrotherapy journey, contact one of our swim spa professionals!