Frequently Asked Questions about Hydrotherapy

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What is hydrotherapy?

Hydrotherapy is a form of rehabilitation which is done in the water. It involves gentle exercises performed in a warm pool, as instructed by a physiotherapist.


What conditions can benefit from hydrotherapy?

Most muscular and joint-related conditions will benefit from hydrotherapy. In particular, hydrotherapy is a great choice for the following conditions:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Back and neck pain
  • Chronic pain
  • Pre- and post-surgical rehabilitation
  • Any condition requiring controlled loading  e.g. bone stress reaction, tendinopathy
  • Gradual return to exercise after inactivity e.g. reconditioning in the elderly
  • Poor balance/falls
(Geytenbeek, 2002)


What benefits does hydrotherapy provide?

The benefits of hydrotherapy are numerous including:

  • pain relief
  • muscle strengthening
  • improved fitness
  • improved balance
  • increased joint flexibility
  • improved circulation
  • muscle relaxation
  • stress reduction
  • swelling reduction
  • early rehabilitation following injury
(Geytenbeek, 2002; Villalta & Peiris, 2013)



Why choose hydrotherapy over land based exercise?

The benefits of hydrotherapy over other forms of exercise are related to the properties of water:

The buoyancy of the water provides support, enabling exercises to be performed more easily than on land, reducing impact and body weight forces on the injury

Your surgeon may allow you to commence hydrotherapy earlier than land based exercise; especially for lower limb surgeries, safely speeding up your recovery

For injured athletes, hydrotherapy has been shown to cause more rapid functional improvements in early rehabilitation than land-based exercise

The warmth of the water eases muscle spasm and pain and improves joint mobility

The resistance of the water can be used during movement to strengthen the muscles

The current in the water caused by movement challenges balance, allowing improvement to balance in a safer environment

(Geytenbeek, 2002; Kim, Kim, Kang, Lee & Childers, 2010; Villalta & Peiris, 2013)



But I can’t swim, can I still do hydrotherapy?

Absolutely! Even if you have never been in a pool before, you can still do hydrotherapy. Most hydrotherapy exercises are designed to simulate land-based skills, to improve your ability outside the pool. Therefore many hydrotherapy exercised are performed standing in the water. There is usually no need to put your head under water!

Do I need a referral from my doctor or specialist to do hydrotherapy?

You do not need any referral to do hydrotherapy. Simply book an in-room assessment with one of our Physiotherapists at Bellbird Sports and Spinal to determine whether hydrotherapy is the best choice for you and your particular condition. If you have had recent surgery and your wounds have healed, we may still need to obtain further details from your specialist to ensure it is appropriate for you to commence hydrotherapy. Book online today!



Written by Elizabeth Jones

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Geytenbeek, J. (2002). Evidence for Effective Hydrotherapy. Physiotherapy, 88(9), 514-529.


Kim, E., Kim, T., Kang, H., Lee, J., & Childers, M. (2010). Aquatic Versus Land-based Exercises as Early Functional Rehabilitation for Elite Athletes with Acute Lower Extremity Ligament Injury: A Pilot Study. PM&R2(8), 703-712. doi: 10.1016/j.pmrj.2010.03.012


Villalta, E. M., & Peiris, C. L. (2013). Early Aquatic Physical Therapy Improves Function and Does Not Increase Risk of Wound-Related Adverse Events for Adults After Orthopedic Surgery: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 94(1), 138-148.