WHAT IS HYDROTHERAPY (THE TECHNICAL BIT!)
“Hydrotherapy” comes from the Greek word meaning “Water Healing”. It is the treatment of weightless exercise in warm water which will assist in the healing of painful joints.
The warmth of the water is very important in any healing process. It provides pain relief and will improve blood circulation. This will help to relax the muscles and relieve any form of stiffness within the joints.
Swimming in warm water will help to improve general fitness, cardiovascular stamina, muscle tone and will also help with the recovery from injury or surgery. Hydrotherapy is especially helpful in the management of obese dogs.
Whilst the dog is buoyant in water, the body is also affected by a pressure known as hydrostatic pressure. At a given depth an equal pressure is exerted on all surfaces of the dog. Together with the cohesive properties of water, this will help to massage the affected area as your dog pulls itself through the water. Hydrostatic pressure can also reduce a dog’s perception of pain, allowing them to perform movements they would find very difficult on land.
This will help increase muscle building, improve range of movement and joint stability, whilst also improving cardiovascular fitness and mental wellbeing of your dog.
Hydrotherapy is beneficial post orthopaedic surgery. The buoyancy properties of water reduces the pressure on the limbs, so exercise can begin much earlier than on land.
Hydrotherapy is not just for dealing with muscle injury, it can also be very effective for neurological conditions especially when used alongside physiotherapy.
HYDROTHERAPY HAS SPECIFIC EFFECTS ON BODY TISSUES
- Relief of pain, swelling & stiffness
- Muscle strengthening and maintenance
- Alleviating muscle spasm
- Increased range of motion in joints
- Improved circulation
- Cardiovascular fitness (heart & lungs)
- Increased tissue healing
- Increased speed of recovery
The heart has to work harder in order to meet the increased demand for nutrients by all the muscles which are being worked, If this all sounds like hard work – it really can be!
The advantage of swimming is the buoyancy of the water. The upward thrust of water against the body of the dog reduces the effects of gravity and this will provide partial or non-weight bearing exercise. Allowing the dog’s limbs to move without having to carry the full weight of the body, the dog is then able to complete an exercise programme without putting the kind of stress on joints that
RANGE OF MOVEMENT
A decreased range of motion can often be due to
It is crucial that the water in a hydrotherapy pool is kept at 28-32 degrees centigrade which is considered to be the best temperature for dogs. This will prevent the body from cooling on immersion and also prevent overheating during the treatment/swimming programme. This thermal effect will warm superficial joints during exercise and improve circulation, very important for both soft tissue injuries and arthritic joints.
INCREASED CIRCULATION OF BLOOD TO THE MUSCLES
Warm water increases the circulation of blood to the muscles, increasing the supply of oxygen and nutrients and flushing away waste products, leading to muscle relaxation and a reduction in pain and stiffness. Improved circulation reduces swelling around an injured area and enhances healing.