Hydrotherapy takes advantage of the natural properties of water to allow exercises to be safely performed with less impact and greater safety. Using warm water also helps to increase blood flow and circulation; aiding the healing process. Hydrotherapy, therefore, is a great way of treating or managing injuries and chronic pain. In this article, we will explain the advantages of hydrotherapy and explore if swim spas are capable of providing an effective hydrotherapy experience.
What Is Hydrotherapy Useful For?
Hydrotherapy is used to help manage chronic pain and 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 provides a natural resistance for muscles can work against. This resistance is limited by the amount of force the body is able to generate; meaning that the muscles will not take on more than they’re able to handle. This allows for strength training with a reduced risk of re-injury.
- Hot water warms up your muscles, making them more flexible. This prepares them for more strenuous exercise. This warming also helps to improve blood flow and circulation, which can speed up the healing process and relieve chronic pain symptoms.
Simply put, when it comes to injury recovery and pain reduction, hydrotherapy is hard to beat.
What Are The Components Of A Good 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.
- 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.
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 that 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 massage jets. The larger the target muscle group is, the larger the jet targeting it should be. For this reason, jets targeting your neck, wrists, and legs should be smaller to ensure that they’re hitting the right spots. Jets targeting your back, on the other hand, 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 for a deep dive on swim spa current systems.
So Are Swim Spas Good For Hydrotherapy?
Hydrotherapy provides many benefits; 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, however, swim spas provide an ideal hydrotherapy experience.
For those looking simply to relax, a swim spa can provide massage therapy and a nice, warm environment to soothe tense muscles. The warm water, buoyancy and massage therapy provided by swim spas means that they are 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 today!