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People working out in an aquatic therapy pool
Working out in the aquatic therapy pool

I have had the opportunity to address this plight of mostly woman when they are posed with the opportunity to start aquatic therapy. The values of aquatic therapy are clear to those who have tried it and potentially not worth it when the thought of putting a swimsuit on stands in the way of this phenomenal location for movement and rehabilitation. SO, what’s the big deal ladies?

Swimsuits Are Great for Aquatic Therapy

First of all, swim suits have the least amount of drag on movement when surrounded by the buoyant environment in the water.  A body of water has hydrostatic pressure that supports our body and makes loss of balance less of an obstacle as we retrain our habits of mobility. It makes changing habits that no longer work for us much easier as we have more time to correct loss of balance reactions. This hydrostatic pressure creates resistance and it drags on clothing. Swim suits are generally designed to have minimal drag in the pool and makes movement more streamlined. Wear what you like but understand your choice may make a difference in how you move.

Of course, you may have seen that I saved the most important fear factor for last! “What will I look like in my swim suit?” To be perfectly honest, I have watched this for 20 years with smiles as I know what happens in a public area when people wear swim suits. I have witnessed women exiting a locker room at a health club to use the pool and invariably they hold a towel up in front of their bodies to hide behind it. It doesn’t work.  It acts as a magnet for eyes of those people in the room already who want to know what is being hidden!  The real bummer is that unbeknownst to most people, the first place for fatigue in a swim suit is the back center seam. It wears out and becomes thin, often looking like a spider web as it fatigues.  It is visible when the suit is on and overlooked when removed from the body so it continues to share what it is intended to cover. So if you cover the front, it only emphasizes the real show in the back!!

One last point. Barbie™ and Ken™ generally don’t hang out in a PT office, let alone the pool area. This is not a location for a beauty contest but one of healing. Allow the benefits of the environment support your efforts to improve your mobility and strength and accept that once you can move, then the focus on how you look will be easier to accomplish.

Edie Bernhardt, PT has been promoting aquatic therapy since 1990 when aquatic therapy started to make a comeback as a valuable option in rehabilitation. She has helped to educate the students at UVM and coworkers with the experiences that she has gained from this exposure.  She was nationally certified as an aquatic therapist and loves sharing this environment with her patients as one of the optimal locations to manage pain, re-educate dysfunctional movement patterns and to initiate a program of strengthening to gain back independent mobility.