As my wonky joints can’t cope with the demands of a gym on land I find myself in a heated pool once or twice a week. My hydrotherapy sessions have been pivotal on my coping with my rheumatoid arthritis.
Provides a place where I can do things I can’t normally do
Initially I had hydrotherapy sessions with a physiotherapist. These were made up of six 45 minute sessions. In fact I’ve done this a few times for various body parts. Initially when I had my first set of hydrotherapy sessions I’d just been diagnosed and I had the sessions to help my overall mobility. As my disease has moved on I have needed help with my elbows and back, therefore have seen the physio a couple more times for other pool sessions. We are lucky that our pool is run by volunteers out of hours, so I have been able to take my physio exercises (I laminated my worksheets) to the pool for nightly sessions. I have been doing hydrotherapy for almost 2 years consistently now. Hydrotherapy exercises involve weights, resistance workouts, stretching and cardio. Many exercises are adapted from ones you would do in a gym but water reduces the pressure on damaged joints.
I get to wear ridiculously bright cossies
My running gear is always bright, so I have to continue this in the pool. I swear by Speedo swimming costumes. They cope really well with the chlorine and heat. They also don’t go see-through for ages (my last one seemed to last forever). The racer back is also mega convenient for the arthritic in me. Other costumes I struggle to take off, whereas the racer back is easy to take off when I’m not feeling so flexible. I also use Speedo Goggles, I cannot fault their fog-free-capabilities and they cope in the heat of the hydrotherapy pool compared to others. I find with some the rubber head strap goes quickly in the heat, but with Speedo I have had no issues at all with my goggles.
Motivation of group exercise
As the pool is open in the evening for patients by patients, it’s very sociable. There is also a physio led session once a week, which is absolutely brilliant. I cannot always make because it’s on earlier than others, but when I occasionally work from home on the same day as these I like to go. It gives me a chance to refresh, chat to the physio and gain more direction. It’s also good fun to work together – we get sent off in pairs in the pool to do the exercises. We also have races when it comes to aqua jogging and get to have a guided relaxation session at the end that involves floating in a rubber ring!
Support from other people with chronic illness
There’s also the benefit that (sadly) we are all in the same boat. When you’re having a bad week and want a moan, the sympathy runs far greater than with others who simply do not understand what it is like to put up with these conditions. The upkeep associated with long term chronic illness, from hospital appointments to trying to function day-to-day is bloody exhausting. We share our stories, our tips and tricks and most of all we just chat. Sometimes you just need too, mental health is so important. Some of our members are older as well, and the pool may be the only contact they have with others all day/week, so it’s important to talk. It’s almost as beneficial as a pool session!