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Rediscovering the Healing Power of Water

man swimming in the pool. activity, sport, water, training
A serious accident serves as a reminder of the many benefits of being in the water.

Ten months ago, I suffered the worst injury of my life. And though I didn’t know it at the time, that same injury would bring me back to a place I’ve always loved­—the water.

The accident happened when I was riding my bike in the rain and wiped on the slippery light rail tracks. I was clipped into my pedals and my left knee took the brunt of the impact. The resulting pain was the worst I’ve ever experienced. And it turned out it was for good reason.

That crash had done something doctors tell me is difficult to do: It fractured my tibia (the bone between the knee and ankle) at the top of the bone where it joins with the fibula (the thigh bone) to create the knee joint. In other words, I messed my knee up badly. How badly? It turns out these types of injuries are rated on a scale of 0-6. Mine was a 4.5.

Two surgeries later, 10 weeks of no weight on the injured leg, and 30 physical therapy appointments later, I’m on an uncertain path to recovering my full mobility. My surgeon tells me I’ll likely need a knee replacement. My physical therapists aren’t so sure. The rest is up to me.

One of the challenges to healing, of course, is finding a balance between pushing myself and not overdoing it.  That’s where the water comes in.

In my years as a reporter, editor and advocate for the pool and spa industry, I had learned about the benefits of water and aquatic therapy. For example, just being in the water helps blood flow, which in turn produces that happy feeling people often experience in their pools and spas. But the power of water becomes even more important when healing from injuries such as mine.

“Stress and anxiety produce cortisol which contributes significantly to inflammation and slows healing. Water immersion helps relax our body and mind. So, logically, healing what’s broken, physically and emotionally, is enhanced through water therapies of all kinds,” explained Dr. Wallace Nichols. Nichols, a keynote speaker at this year’s PSP/Deck Expo, wrote the book on the subject. “Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do” is all about the many benefits of water.

Of course, you don’t have to suffer a serious injury to benefit from the water. Stress and anxiety alone are something that everyone struggles with these days. In fact, pretty much everything that ails us in modern society can be improved by just being in the water.

That’s why when it comes to selling pools and spas, it’s important to remember to tell customers about the health aspects of water. Even better, show them the research—and talk up the benefits.

For aquatic therapy those include muscle strength, improved balance, better circulation, and relaxation. For warm water therapy provided by hot tubs, the benefits include improved sleep, cardiovascular health and even help with diabetes.

The many benefits of water therapy are another way pool and spa professionals can take pride in bringing families together—and helping them heal at the same time.

As Dr. Nichols puts it: “When researchers, health professionals, parents, educators and the pool and aquatics fields work together, we see advances that transform and improve lives.”

 

 

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