Exercise in the Pool


Exercise in the pool can benefit almost everybody. At Back in Motion we provide a one-to-one pool service for those people wanting their rehabilitation to include a pool programme. At Back in Motion the physiotherapist will be in the pool with you to teach you the correct way to perform your exercises and can provide a correct demonstration of your exercises, immediate feedback and hands-on correction if required.

Orthopaedic conditions that are commonly given pool programmes include:

  • Back pain
  • Rehabilitation following back, hip or knee surgery
  • Ankle, hip and knee injuries
  • Shoulder injuries
  • Rehabilitation following shoulder surgery
  • Arthritis in spine, hips, knees and shoulders
  • Rehabilitation following the removal of a cast on arm or leg

People with neurological conditions can benefit from pool programmes. You can choose to exercise in warm or cool water depending on your condition and needs. Pool programmes have been shown to benefit people with:

  • MS
  • Stroke
  • Traumatic brain injury/ concussion
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Cerebellar/coordination problems
  • Cerebral palsy

So what can a pool programme do for you?

These are some of the goals for exercising in the pool:

Improve Movement Range or Control

Pool programmes can use to water to assist with movement or add resistance to movement. Activities such as rising up on your toes can be performed in the water whilst you cannot achieve it on dry land. Similarly you can walk with the support of the water whilst you require sticks on land. You can even stand on one leg – something you may not have been able to perform for some time.

Walking and Balance

Walking and balance programmes can be developed in the shallow end and can be progressed to include squatting, jumping, hopping. Walking can be made more challenging by using flippers or holding a kick board to provide resistance.

Strengthen Muscles

You can use pool programmes to strengthen muscles through the use of floats or flippers to add resistance. Similarly you can speed up the movement and increase the range to work the muscles harder.

Balance and Core Stability

Pool programmes are great at improving your core stability. Using kick boards for resistance to arm exercises in standing, you have to work your core harder to maintain balance. You can also use the deep end of the pool to perform leg exercises which require the use of your core muscles to remain upright.


Aqua-jogging and water running along with swimming are all beneficial for fitness. Any of the above programmes can also work you hard. Activity in water can be 20% more challenging than performing the same exercise on land. Aqua-jogging needs to be done with care if you have a back problem – ask for instruction to prevent irritating your condition

Caution for exercising in the pool

Some caution is required because 30 minutes of activity in a heated pool can:

  • Cause the heart rate to drop a little bit – this is to be expected, but can be a risk if you are on beta blockers;
  • Reduce blood pressure;
  • Be the same as 45 minutes of vigorous exercise on land;
  • Put pressure on the kidneys and cause those with bladder/kidney conditions to need to urinate;
  • Cause dehydration and make you thirsty as you don’t always notice that you are sweating;
  • Worsen fatigue;

And the pool is an unsafe environment for clients with poorly controlled epilepsy.

Our pool service differs from many available because:

  • There is a dedicated senior physiotherapist in the pool with all clients;
  • Each client has set appointment time with the physiotherapist rather than be part of a group session to ensure they learn their programme correctly; Once set up and competent with their programme they can attend at a time that suits them;
  • We have developed both generic and specific exercise programmes for a range of conditions;
  • The pool exercises can complement other rehabilitation programmes that our clients may be on.