You probably won’t be surprised to hear that the question I’m asked the most is “what are your exercises?”
I’m so sorry it’s taken me so long to get up some of my own resources. I have been working on it, planning, and have actually shot a few practice videos at my gym pool. It’s just a little bit terrifying to think about putting yourself on Youtube.
For now, I thought I’d give you somewhat of an overview so at least you can figure out what I’m getting at.
Just to be clear, I really, really recommend that you work with an aquatic physical therapist, to make sure you’re doing these exercises correctly. So anything I write, or post on Youtube, is just to give you a sense of what you should be aiming for.
#1 Proper Posture
The first thing an aquatic PT ever did with me was to make sure I was engaging a muscle called the tranverse abdominis properly.
This muscle is arguably the most important muscle in your core, and it wraps around the whole front of your body.
When you contract this muscle, it’s as though you’re tightening a corset that wraps around your whole front. It has the effect of making your torso stiff, which helps to hold your lower back and SI joints in position.
This helps protect your joints as you go throughout your exercise routine. It’s really important to do your exercises with proper posture, to make sure you’re getting the maximum benefit out of them and aren’t going to give yourself a setback.
Again, I don’t expect any of you to be able to figure out how to contract the TA on your own. That’s why it’s really important that you find a good PT. But hopefully, this post can give you an idea of what you’re aiming for.
For more on the core and transverse abdominis, you can check out:
- The most important place to start strengthening: the core & transverse abdominis
- Start building core strength with exercises that are gentle on the SI joints and lower back
#2 The Deep End
I personally received the most benefit from doing exercises in deep water, where I was using flotation devices to support my upper body while letting my legs hang beneath you.
If you go to the 2:20 point in this video, you can see how this woman is using pool noodles and flotation dumbells to support herself, while moving her legs beneath her.
You can use any configuration of flotation devices that feels comfortable for you. The key is to have your lumbar spine in a comfortable position, and again– PROPER POSTURE!
Then, generally, you can kick your legs in different directions– forward and backwards, and side to side. All of these movements engage different muscles within the hips, and all are important for stabilizing the pelvis.
Allowing your legs to hang beneath you like this also gives you some additional benefits in the form of something called traction. Basically, it means that you’re letting gravity gently pull your legs, pelvis and spine down, creating space in any of the joints that have been compressed.
(Someone asked me recently if this was bad for hypermobile joints. In my experience, no! There isn’t enough force pulling on your legs to pull your joints into unhealthy directions. Instead, it just helps to create space within joints that have been compressed as you’re up walking around, going about your daily life).
For more on traction, you can check out this post.
#3 The Shallow End
The shallow end is, quite frankly, my second choice, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth it if you aren’t able to access the deep end!
Essentially, you can work all of the muscles you need to in the shallow end.. it’s just that when you’re weight-bearing, there’s more force travelling through your joints.
Generally, you can walk forwards… and you can walk backwards. You can even walk sideways. These movements sound so basic, however they all work different muscles in your hips!
You can also do mini-squats while you’re standing in the shallow end– these help work the muscles in the back of the hips (commonly called the glutes).
Again, I really recommend that you work with an aquatic PT, but I hope this post helps get you started!
For more on strengthening, check out:
- Three major muscle groups to strengthen for SI joint dysfunction
- Key Point #4: Muscular strength vs. Endurance
And for more on the benefits of pool exercise specifically:
I hope this helps! If you have any questions, as always, you can leave a comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.