Multiple Sclerosis (MS) affects the central nervous system and can be progressive or come in waves of remission and exacerbation of symptoms. It commonly affects a person’s mobility and can also cause pain. Fatigue can be a significant barrier to physical activity and exercise for many people with MS.
The hydrotherapy pool is an ideal environment in which to exercise. In particular, because it gives pain relief whilst exercising without the physical effort of moving the limbs and the weight of the body, which otherwise causes fatigue on land.
Additionally, exercising, standing, moving and walking in the pool helps to build confidence and has huge psychological benefits when you are able to perform movements and tasks in water without the fear of falling or excess fatigue or pain.
Ai Chi, which uses similar movements and breathing to Tai Chi but in water, has also shown benefits and improvements to people with a range of conditions including MS:
- reduced tension,
- reduced stress,
- reduced pain,
- improved flexibility,
- improved sleep,
- mood and wellbeing,
- increased energy,
- balance and
- physical function
Some of the benefits of hydrotherapy for people with multiple sclerosis include:
- Pain relief – water pressure massages the muscles, reducing pain during and after sessions. The warmth of the water helps to reduce tension in the body whilst stimulating the release of endorphins, the body’s natural painkiller.
- Increased flexibility – the warmth of the hydrotherapy pool relaxes muscles and, with the guidance of the therapist, can work towards lengthening and stretching muscles.
- Improved control of movement – the water’s viscosity and turbulent drag as a limb or body moves through water slows that movement down allowing increased focus on movement control and coordination