The Magic Of Buoyancy

Buoyancy Naturally Promotes Healing And Strength

Long ago, the Greek physicist Archimedes discovered that any object immersed in water will displace a volume of water equal to its own volume. This displacement creates an upward force that counters gravity. One of the best properties of buoyancy is that the level can be controlled by the depth of immersion, in other words, the more water that is displaced the more support you experience.

buoyancy and aquatic therapy

For example, if you immerse the body up to the pelvis approximately 40% of the body weight is off loaded. By the time you reach the sternum it is 60-72% and by the time you reach the neck about 85% of the body is off loaded with only about 15 lbs of weight being applied to the body which is the weight of the head. Thus, the buoyancy of water can minimize your weight by about 90%. For patients with spinal injuries, expecting mothers, fibromyalgia patients,  and individuals with physical limitations, the buoyancy of water helps reduce stress on the body and adds the challenge of keeping the body position stable while in the water.

Buoyancy And Rehabilitation

The body is usually at a state of balance when it is immersed up to neck level. You can utilize buoyancy to decrease gravitational forces positioned on weak limbs that are less able to bear weight. There is less pressure on the muscles and joints, making it much easier to move and perform normal movements underwater. Ultimately, buoyancy assists in restoring and strengthening range of motion.  For patients who are recovering from surgery, buoyancy allows for less weight-bearing through the joint, resulting in less stress on the surgical site. Using the immersion properties of buoyancy one can  control the level of weight bearing stress on a joint.  Buoyancy also allows very weak muscles to assist movement patterns that normally cannot be done with traditional land based exercises. While submerged in water, buoyancy decreases the amount of weight bearing stress which reduces the force placed on the joints. For patients with arthritis, healing fractured bones, or who are overweight it becomes much easier and less painful to perform exercises. Besides increased freedom of movement and less joint stress, buoyancy also relaxes your posture muscles which combined with warm water helps improve your blood circulation and stress relief.

Water buoyancy also offers benefits like an increase in joint flexibility. The warm water also helps to relax muscles that are sore or tight. By floating it becomes much easier and far less painful to move. The weight relief to weakened body structures also provides additional relief. You will find that your balance also improves because of the uniform pressure of the water that buoyancy offers your body. Patients enjoy the benefit of increased reaction time without the fear of falling or getting hurt. For patients with neurological injuries buoyancy decreases spasticity and rigidity. Patients suffering from a bulging disc can enjoy pain relief and decompression in a comfortable warm water environment by using a combination of ankle weights and buoyancy for a very effective treatment for lumbar discs.

Here’s an example of water floatation being used on children with cerebral palsy