Aquatic therapy is good for rehab and for daily well-being.
wphoto provided
Aquatic therapy is good for rehab and for daily well-being. wphoto provided
Water is wondrous. For many people dealing with injuries, aging joints or neurological problems, activities in a pool or swim spa can make all the difference in their ability to enjoy life.

Rick Trammell of Aqua Hot Tubs in Sisters recalls, “I have this one customer who does a ton of work out in the woods, and he picked up a swim spa before we bought the store.”

The man has a morning routine that starts in the swim spa. Due to the nature of his work, he’s pretty stove up.

“It’s everything he can do to get out to the swim spa,” Trammell said.

But once he’s in the spa, he’s able to loosen up.

“Just the type of motion allows him to get his creaks and moans out so he can go out and work hard,” Trammell said. “Low-impact aerobic activity just works it out.”

Such stories are the daily bread and butter of Matt Kirchoff of Therapeutic Associates in Sisters. He works with a wide range of patients in the pool at Sisters Athletic Club, right next door.

People with knee and hip issues can benefit greatly from exercise in a pool.

“You have an unloading effect on joints, number one,” Kirchoff said. “You’re unloading hips and knees by 25 to 50 percent of bodyweight.”

That means people who’s joints cause them too much pain to exercise on dry land can get their exercise in the water.

“You put them in the pool, they’re able to do a lot, relatively pain-free,” Kirchoff said.

Kirchoff told The Nugget that he gets the greatest satisfaction working with people who have neurological problems that make movement difficult. Often, those people can do things in water they can no longer do safely — or at all — on dry land.

“They can work out for 45 minutes,” Kirchoff said. “That has not only a great physical benefit for those people, but psychological because they’re able to move relatively normally for a long period of time.”

While Sisters Athletic Club offers use of its pool to a step-down program with Therapeutic Associates, the benefits of aqua therapy are not limited to those under care. SAC offers regular Aqua Fitness classes for members.

Water workouts are not limited to the aged, the infirm or those recovering from injury. Elite athletes have long understood the benefits of training in water.

“I’ve worked with some higher-level athletes in the pool over the years, and it can be very beneficial,” Kirchoff said.

Water exercise offers opportunities for higher training loads with reduced soreness. Athletes can apply water training to move past plateaus.

Kirchoff notes that water exercise should not be exclusive. For example, he encourages weight-bearing exercises to stave off osteoporosis. Water exercise should be part of a program. Often, it can be used to help a person get strong enough — or return to strength — to do more dry land work.

A pool or swim spa can be a versatile and highly effective fitness tool — one that Kirchoff values greatly.

“I feel lucky that I’ve had access to a pool for my whole career,” he said.