What we’ll cover
  1. What is hydrotherapy?
  2. Why hydrotherapy?
  3. Mechanics of hydrotherapy
  4. What do we do
  5. Hydrotherapy vs Land-based exercise
  6. Hydrotherapy at Malvern East Physiotherapy

What is hydrotherapy and how does it work?

Did you know individuals who have a limited capacity to perform exercises on dry land are most suitable for hydrotherapy?  Our physiotherapist Vernon explores how hydrotherapy can benefit you.

What is hydrotherapy?

At Malvern East Physiotherapy (MEP), hydrotherapy is performed at the Harold Holt Swim Centre.

Hydrotherapy (also known as aquatic therapy, water therapy or pool therapy) is a form of exercise performed in the water, instead of on land. This form of exercise treatment is done in a specific hydrotherapy pool, which is vastly different to your typical 25 metre pool. The hydrotherapy pool is usually heated between 33°-36°.

It is important to note that aqua aerobics is different to hydrotherapy whereby it is typically performed in the normal 25 metre pool and is for those patients who are not limited by joint pain and want a form of cardiovascular fitness.

Why hydrotherapy?

At MEP, our physiotherapists prescribe hydrotherapy for patients who typically suffer from the following conditions:

  1. Joint arthritis/osteoarthritis.
  2. Post-joint replacement rehabilitation.
  3. Various post-surgical rehabilitations (e.g. surgical repair of achilles)

Overall, patients who have a limited capacity to perform exercises on dry land are most suitable for hydrotherapy. Usually, joint/muscle pain is the most common limiting factor. However, each patient must be assessed by a physiotherapist for their suitability to start hydrotherapy.

Mechanics of hydrotherapy

Mechanics of hydrotherapy

During a hydrotherapy session, the buoyancy of the water reduces the body weight that joints, bones and muscles have to bear. Therefore, the deeper the water is, the less body weight beared.

Neck-line depth = 10% body weight.

Chest-line depth = 30% body weight.

Waist-line water depth = 50% body weight.

The warmth of the water also provides improved blood circulation and helps with reducing swelling. As a result of the factors stated, hydrotherapy can allow for early mobilization, dynamic strengthening and overall less painful exercise.



In the water, the amount of drag or turbulence is another way of talking about resistance. Resistance is created when you add flippers, paddles or noodles. The speed you move an object and the depth of the water you exercise in, contributes to the amount of “resistance” created. The faster the speed, the more resistance.

Buoyancy is the amount of force that is created to keep objects afloat. The deeper the water, the more buoyancy created. This is why less pain is caused by exercise when in the water. If pain is created during water exercise, stopping movement immediately stops pain as the buoyancy supports the limb.

What do we do

Typically patients who complete hydrotherapy are limited by joint/muscle pain whilst performing exercises on land. Thus, we take land-based exercises and do them in the water.

These include: strength exercises (squats, step ups calf raises), balance exercises (single leg, split stance), flexibility exercises (calf stretch, quadriceps stretch) and general mobility exercises (walking forwards, sideways walking, joint movements).


Hydrotherapy vs Land-based exercise

The most critical difference between hydrotherapy and land-based exercise is strength/power gains and the ability to manipulate pain levels. As the depth of the water is related to the amount of load going through joints/muscles, our physiotherapists can appropriately alter how patients exercise depending on pain levels, which cannot be done on land.

If strength is a major issue that needs to be treated, it is important to note that whilst on land, 100% of our bodyweight goes through our joints and muscles which is significantly more bodyweight than being in the water.

With less bodyweight going through your joints and muscles, there is a decreased ability for your muscles to adapt and get stronger. There will be some strength improvements made in water, but not to the same degree as being on land.

Hydrotherapy at Malvern East Physiotherapy

If you are interested and believe you are suitable for commencing hydrotherapy, the first step is to book an appointment with our two hydrotherapy physiotherapists: Sarah Yule or Vernon Mittal.

The consultation will involve assessing and discussing your suitability for hydrotherapy. Then, if deemed suitable for water exercise, you will discuss with your physiotherapist a treatment plan so that you achieve the best outcomes with physiotherapy.

To make an appointment with one of our hydrotherapy physiotherapists, you can book online or call our friendly team on 9571 6888.

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Back to school 🔙📚

Last week we were fortunate enough to head back to uni and refresh our anatomy knowledge at @latrobeuni in the anatomy labs. 

Thank you to the Latrobe School of Physiotherapy for inviting us! Last week our team celebrated another great year. 

Whilst Melbourne’s weather had its own plans, we were still determined to keep with the theme of ‘Italian Summer’. We let our hair down to master the art of mixology 🍸🍹followed by an Italian feast. Friday morning Run Club with the team. Practicing what we preach!

Staying stronger, healthier and happier. This time last week, our team was nervously completing their final preparations for @melbmara . 

Congratulations to our physiotherapists and ME community who ran on the day.

Dilen and Michael completed their first marathons. Abbey and Lizzie smashed out their first half. Last Sunday, our team headed down to see our own Matt Warren win a premiership in the VAFA Premier Men’s Competition. Last week our team dedicated a full day to professional development and team building. At ME Physio we pride ourselves on collaboration to put you at the centre of everything we do. 

Our team covered the latest treatments for back pain, financial well-being and finished off the day with salsa dancing. 

Many thanks to our guests including James Schomburgk from @the2ndvisitphysio , Financial Planners Tony Vikram & Cameron Bishop and the @salsafoundation At ME Physio, our focus is on helping you get stronger so that you can keep doing the things you love.

For Tony and Joan, healthier and stronger is being able to navigate the iconic Coast to Coast Walk in the UK! We recently had the pleasure of hosting Elise Bujor from Women’s & Men’s Health Physiotherapy to discuss women’s health issues across the lifespan. 

Our team pride themselves on staying up to date to ensure you’re able to stay healthier, happier and stronger. Huge milestones over the past few weeks with both Tom and Jude from @delasallefc doing their first bit of running in their rehab. 

Tom is on the return from an ankle dislocation whilst Jude is putting in the hard work following a knee reconstruction. Last week our team enjoyed some friendly rivalry at the footy. 

With finals around the corner, some of our team can now safely make holidays plans for September. We recently had the pleasure of hosting the podiatry team from @sespodiatry. 

Our physiotherapists Michael and Abbey presented on rehabilitation following Achilles surgical repair and ankle surgery. Last weekend some of our team got together to complete the 10 km run @runmelbourne. There was no finish line picture as some were keen to run another 15 km!

Whilst running wasn’t for some - brunch was well received by everyone.

You Deserve to Feel Good.

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