Research & benefits

What's so great about aquatic therapy?

The effectiveness of aquatic rehabilitation for treatments of various conditions has been confirmed through research findings.

Read on to discover some of the latest research studies and results relating to aquatic therapy and exercise in water. 


What is therapeutic aquatic exercise?

What is therapeutic aquatic exercise?

Therapeutic aquatic rehabilitation is the use of special exercises in water for the treatment of a vast range conditions such as arthritis, sprains, strains, lower back pain and rheumatoid complaints.

The concept of using water for therapy has been around for hundreds of years, and now forms an integral part of many modern treatment programmes.

Why use therapeutic aquatic exercise for musculoskeletal problems?

Why use therapeutic aquatic exercise for musculoskeletal problems?

The buoyancy effect of water provides a unique environment that  proves very effective in the rehabilitation of muscles and joints, as it helps to lessen the load placed on bones, muscles and joints.

Water also provides a gentle resistance to work against. The resistance of the water is dependent upon the speed at which the movement is performed, therefore participants can explore different levels of resistance for themselves, and practice according to their own capabilities.

Why use therapeutic aquatic exercise for musculoskeletal problems?

How effective is therapeutic aquatic exercise?

Scientific studies have shown that gentle aquatic exercise can improve strength and general fitness in people with musculoskeletal conditions. 

Exercises can be tailored to your individual needs, so you can start to slowly and gradually build up your strength and flexibility.

In general, aquatic exercise is one of the safest treatments for arthritis and joint pain.

Benefits of aquatic therapy

Benefits of aquatic therapy

Studies have demonstrated that aquatic rehabilitation and exercise has multiple benefits for users. 

These include:

  • Reduced stress and compression through back and joints​
  • Reduced joint swelling from hydrostatic (water) pressure
  • Improved circulation from hydrostatic (water) pressure
  • Reduction of pain and muscle spasm
  • Improvement and maintenance of joint motion
  • Strengthening of muscles
  • Increased physical fitness and ability to exercise 
  • Ability to progress to land-based exercise
  • Regaining of normal movement patterns
  • Improved balance
  • Improved mobility
  • Improved flexibility
  • Improved co-ordination
  • Improve posture
  • Improve self-confidence

Conditions that may benefit from aquatic exercise

There is a large volume of clinical research and specialist advice on which conditions benefit from aquatic rehabilitation and water therapy. 

The conditions below have been demonstrated to benefit from this type of activity: 

  • Back Pain
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Hip and Knee Joint Replacement (pre-surgery and post-surgery rehabilitation)
  • Joint Sprains (Knee, Ankle, Shoulder)
  • Shoulder Rehabilitation
  • Fitness Conditioning
  • General Sports Strengthening and Fitness

Conditions that benefit from therapeutic aquatic exercise

Conditions that benefit from therapeutic aquatic exercise

Find out more

The foundations, support groups and organisations below represent a range of musculoskeletal and health conditions that discuss and advocate aquatic rehabilitation.

Visit their websites to find out more about the latest research developments in this area.

Please note links will open in a new window.

Versus Arthritis

MS Society


Fibromyalgia Action UK

Chelsea & Westminster Hospital


Heart of England

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