Hydrotherapy is the ‘forgotten’ exercise

However, a pool doesn’t have to be enormous to give tremendous benefits and help with rehabilitation.


The anti-Brexiters are all be-moaning the fact that we are committed to leave the EU, yet in the NHS, asking big-wigs in NHS England, etc. why we haven’t taken advantage of learning from European studies, they shrug their shoulders.

Arrogance personified!

At Charing Cross Lymphoedema clinic I was interviewed by a bright young doctor, who mentioned Paolo Zamboni’s research into aqua aerobics, describing the benefits of Acqua Aerobics.  He promised to send over the paper, and when it arrived, I realised I had had one of his aqua aerobics classes when I was treated at Casciana Terme, over three years ago.

Zamboni and other have produced a paper (extract in the magazine Phlebology (Oct. 18th 2016), on a specifically designed aquatic exercise protocol to reduce chronic lower limb edema, exploring advantages of basic aqua aerobics; this mentions sources including work at University of Ferrara.

Italy of course has an enormous advantage in that warm mineral spring are to be found all over the country, making it easy for every hospital and medical centre to have gallons of warm mineral waters gushing up (only I am not too keen on the sulphur-smelling ones around Tivoli – phew!)

Some hydrotherapy pools are run by Physios who use exercises developed in the thermal pools at Bad Ragaz, Switzerland, and others have been to the fantastic Clinic Bad Sulza (part of University of Jena, Germany) where their Olympic sized pools are state of the art – as is the physiotherapy

What does Lymphoedema Support Network advise?

They sent me a link http://www.lymphnotes.com/article.php/id/24/

which provides invaluable advice: from temperature of water, advice on exercises and wearing compression garments whilst exercising.

Pretty well any exercise in a pool is good – but those on the website seem the same as I was being taught in, in Italy.

Talk to your Physio and see if they can offer help with specific exercises for ‘your’ lymphoedema.  They may well want to read Zamboni’s article to learn more.Work Starts on New Children's Hospital Hydrotherapy Pool

Why does exercise work?

The lymphatic system is made up of a network of vessels that carry a clear fluid called lymph throughout the body. Lymph fluid serves the important purpose of carrying nutrients to the cells that bathe in the fluid. The lymph fluid then delivers cellular waste to the bloodstream, which carries it to the kidneys, colon and lungs for elimination. If your lymphatic system is blocked or clogged, you may experience a number of symptoms, including back pain, constipation, fatigue, depression and weight gain. However certain exercises can help release blockages and promote healthy movement of nutrients and waste throughout the body.

What exercises

Settle yourself standing in the water.   As you inhale, slowly turn your head to the right to a count of five. Pause for one second and then exhale, bringing your head back to centre for a count of five. Repeat on the left side. Do five repetitions on each side.
Stand or sit in a comfortable position. As you inhale, draw both shoulders up toward your ears and then exhale, releasing your shoulders to a neutral position. Repeat five times. Stand.  Flex the ankle and extend the ankle six times, flexing and pointing the toe like a ballerina. Repeat on each side.Stand and hold onto side rail.  
Get up on tip of toes. Stand.  Flex the ankle and extend the ankle six times, flexing and pointing the toe like a ballerina. Repeat on each side. Stand and hold onto side rail.  Get up on tip of toes for count of 30.  Then down.
Once you are warmed up, you can then go on with exercises using  the ‘toys’ that surround most pools, and HAVE FUN!
Have a pool at home
.  Thanks to a firm called Endless Pools, this is no longer a far-fetched idea.  If you have the space, you can install your own pool in the garden, and cost is from £19,000 for a heated pool with equipment.  
The Brownlee Brothers,  Triathlon medal winners in the Olympics, have installed one in their backgarden;  theirs includes a Treadmill – ideal for weight-bearing exercise.  
More details:  Endlesspools.co.uk

  N.B.  You will probably find the hot water makes you skin itch.  I slap on a good cream mask such as Antipodes Aura Manuka Honey Mask.  The heat helps this penetrate, so you are having a skin treatment as well as exercise, and this does wonders for your face!


1 Comment

  1. Vivienne Du Bourdieu

    This is absolutely fascinating information. I went to Poland to explore the use of spas and hydrotherapy about 2009. Tremendously useful; especially for those over 60. And it was free in government-run ‘baths’ and therapy centres. These were less elegant than private ones – which I was also shown and tried out – but the one-to-one care at the government ones was terrific. And so many happy older people! I concentrated on Gdansk, on that occasion.

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