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Water is rejuvenating and fun, and it is also one of the most effective tools when it comes to pain relief. The reason why water is so effective isn’t magic. There are some specific reasons why working out in water alleviates pain.
Gravity constantly exerts force against your body. When in the water, you alleviate gravitational pressure by 80-90%, which releases painful tension throughout your entire body. When tension is released from muscles and joints, circulation improves, inflammation decreases, and joints have the opportunity to replenish synovial fluid with movement. Overall, your body has the chance to get a break from the constant force of gravity, which feels good and relieves pain.
Hydrostatic pressure is the force of water that’s exerted on to the immersed body. The equal force of pressure that surrounds the body works much like compression socks increasing venous return. This improves circulation, prevents blood from pooling in extremities, and reduces swelling, which all contribute to alleviating pain.
Pain is essentially an “alarm” signal that travels from your nerves to your brain. Hydrostatic pressure uniquely turns down these signals dampening sensory input to the brain. The natural force also causes you to breathe diaphragmatically, which resets your parasympathetic nervous system and reduces pain signals.
Water provides resistance with every movement. In addition to strengthening your muscles, resistance also acts as a sensory gate which occupies your nervous system, thus blocking pain signals being sent to the brain.
Some forms of pain are less evident than others and are not always due to injury, like stagnation. If you’ve ever put yourself in an awkward position, you know what this is like. A stuck joint or muscle isn’t necessarily injured, yet it hurts. When you move your body in water, the low-impact resistance activates the hurting muscles to make them more flexible and mobile, which reduces pain.
Cool and warm water both have their benefits. Typically, cooler temperatures are ideal for higher aerobic activity because it enables you to workout without overheating; however, warmer temperatures can be suitable because it warms up stiff, painful muscles and joints making it easier to move. Warm water increases vasodilation, blood flow, enhances oxygen uptake, which also accelerates tissue healing. Cool water reduces inflammation, which alleviates pain. Studies show that individuals respond differently to different temperatures, so it’s best for you to experiment to find the temperature that offers you the most pain relief.
Some medications can be addictive, and the body is likely to develop a level of dependence. Water exercise is an extremely effective natural pain reliever that treats both the entire body and mind.
While Pain medications may reduce pain, most would agree they offer poor to limited efficacy which is why working out in water is the perfect holistic pain-relief solution.
Pain is often made worse by your reactions to it, and it’s easy to get caught in a cycle of frustration, depression, and stress. When you regularly exercise in water, your body releases endorphins, which not only make you feel happy; they also act as a natural pain killer. The calming nature of water ties together both physical and psychological benefits, providing a unique form of relief that only water can provide.
The pain that you feel is strongly influenced by the way your mind processes it. Research supports that because pain involves both the body and the mind, mindfulness practices offer relief by changing the way you perceive pain. Brain scan tests using functional magnetic resonance imagery (fMRI) prove that when you are in a mindful state, fewer pain-related brain networks are activated. The movements of Ai Chi stretch and strengthen your body; being mindfully aware will “fire” fewer pain signals resulting in relief.
Just because you’re in a lot of pain doesn’t mean it will require a lot of time and effort to alleviate it. You will be pleasantly surprised over how you feel compared to the amount of physical effort you put in with each session. The integration of flowing movements, mindful concentration, and the natural pain-relieving properties of water all work together to provide you noticeable, immediate results.
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Ability Fix brings professional aquatic fitness and Ai Chi right to your phone. You can work out on your own time, in any body of water and the app works just as easily as your favorite music player.