A swimming pool is a safe environment for people with haemophilia to begin exercise, as water has several properties that make it a better place to exercise than on land. The buoyancy of the water supports body weight and decreases the force of gravity. People in the water feel less weight through their joints, so moving is easier and requires less muscle force. In addition, the water is dense, which can provide resistance while moving, and this resistance allows strengthening to occur while putting less strain on the muscles. There is also hydrostatic pressure in the water that acts like an ace bandage, compressing the joints to decrease swelling. All of these properties allow a person to begin a range of motion by strengthening, standing, walking which is quicker than with regular physiotherapy.
Some of the benefits are:
1. Muscle strengthening
Water can provide support to allow ease of movement, but it can also provide resistance to perform strengthening exercises. If a person moves an arm or leg slowly in the water, it is done with minimal force to the muscles.
2. Mobility and walking
Walking in the water is easier and less painful than on land because the body weight is supported putting less stress on the legs. Your physiotherapist can work on the way a person walks to help eliminate limping and to allow the body to experience normal walking.
The pool is a safe place to practise balance because a person who loses balance and falls over only gets wet. Balance exercises in the pool cause the muscles surrounding a joint to contract together, to keep the joint in a stable position.
Swimming is an excellent form of cardiovascular exercise. A sport that utilises the upper body and arm muscles is more demanding on the heart and lungs than a sport that relies primarily on the legs.
How to get started?
Before starting any exercise programme, you should consult with your haematologist and physiotherapist at your haemophilia treatment centre.