Benefits of Aquatic Therapy | Peak Physical Therapy | Massachusetts

Aquatic therapy is a form of physical therapy that offers unique advantages to people of all ages. Physical rehabilitation and exercise in water have many benefits that will help speed up the recovery process, boost muscle performance, and help reduce acute and chronic pain. A few of the benefits of aquatic therapy are as follows:

Hydrostatic Pressure

Since water is denser than air, more pressure is exerted onto you as you enter a body of water. Water compresses your skin, muscles, and joints via hydrostatic pressure and is constantly adjusting its shape to your body. Hydrostatic pressure puts the chest cavity under direct pressure, forcing the heart and lungs to work harder. Its effects are similar to that of a compression bandage, relieving chronic muscle aches when a person is in water.


Water offers constant resistance without the bulk of resistance equipment, allowing freedom of movement without restriction. This causes an increase in the exertion of energy required to perform normal motion, which helps tone atrophied muscles faster by using more muscle fibers. Water helps reduce pain and helps minimize the fear of falling down, since its buoyancy helps keep you upright.

Rebuild Muscle Memory

The viscosity and resistance of water forces you to move more slowly, allowing your brain to process the signals from your muscles more thoroughly. This is highly beneficial for rebuilding muscle memory, allowing more time to focus on the way your body is moving and taking the muscle through its full range of motion properly.

Dulled Sense of Touch

The nervous system has an acute network of nerve endings in the skin and muscles that can respond to the slightest stimulus. Pressure from being submerged in water provides a constant stimulus that the body is not accustomed to, so the nervous system automatically dulls the reticular system, the part of the brain responsible for dealing with tactile sensory neurons. This can also help dull muscle pain, allowing patients to stretch their muscles to their full range of motion more easily to speed up recovery.


The buoyancy of water causes the feeling of an upward thrust when a person’s body is submerged, acting in the opposite direction of gravity. Exercises can be adapted to resist this upward thrust, support it, or assist it. Submersion in water decreases weight bearing by up to 90%, so someone who is typically unable to support their body weight on land is often able to walk with minimal support in water. This makes weight bearing easier for painful and/or post-op lower extremities. Buoyancy also supports weak muscles, enhances flexibility and range of motion, and increases ease of handling for the physical therapist.

Improved Circulation

Hydrostatic pressure puts the heart under constant pressure, and the warm water used for aquatic therapy helps promote circulation. Increased blood flow to the limbs helps promote healing.

Peak Physical Therapy

Our South Shore Physical Therapy practice specializes in physical therapy including many specialty programs including return-to-sports, vestibular, pelvic health, post-concussion, aquatics, and more. Locations include Norwell, MA, Scituate, MA, Quincy, MA, Hanover, MA, Pembroke, MA, and Braintree, MA. Our specialized programs combined with state-of-the-art facilities allow us to meet the unique needs of our local patients and achieve the fastest results. If you are unsure whether this type of treatment can help you, we offer a no-obligation FREE injury screening. Click here for more information.

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