Aquatic Therapy Techniques
Created by Jun Konno of Japan, Ai Chi is a combination of deep breathing and slow broad movements of the arms, legs, and torso, using concepts of T'ai Chi, Shiatsu, and Qigong. Ai Chi is performed standing in shoulder-depth water with an ideal pool temperature of 88F to 96F.
Ai Chi NeAi Chi Ne (pronounced Eye Chee Knee) is a partner stretching program. "Ne" is the Japanese word for "two". Ai Chi Ne involves breathing techniques to increase relaxation and, therefore, enhance the stretch abilities. Using the breathing techniques decreases stress, joint tension, muscular tension, and the stretch reflex response.
This is an integrated program that the individual can do on his or her own. It was developed for people with back problems but is now being used by group programs for people with disabilities. Rather than focusing on healing one part of the body, all the body parts coordinate to work on healing and fixing the affected area. BackHab is an aquatic walking program using various strides to accomplish a variety of benefits. It is excellent for gait re-training.
This technique originated in Germany in 1957 and was introduced by a German therapist to the therapeutic thermal pools of Bad Ragaz in Switzerland. The technique has since become more clearly defined as the Bad Ragaz Ring Method. Bad Ragaz is a method of muscle re-education utilizing specific patterns of resistance, endurance, elongation, relaxation, range of motion, and tonal reduction.
The Burdenko Method
The Burdenko Method is used for athletic training and as a therapeutic method for people with disabilities. The basic concepts include integrating land and water therapy, using a vertical position, focusing on the whole body, and homework.
Developed by Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais, this method uses gentle movement and directed attention to improve movement and enhance human functioning. This method aims to increase ease and range of motion, improve flexibility and coordination, and encourage the individual to rediscover innate capacity for graceful, efficient movement. These improvements will often generalize to enhance functioning in other aspects of life.
The Halliwick concept is an approach to teaching people with physical and/or learning difficulties to participate in water activities, to move independently in water, and to swim. The practice utilizes the Ten Point Program, which includes essential components of motor learning, and eventually leads to independence in the water. The Ten Point Program includes the concepts of mental adjustment, balance control, and movement.
Lyu Ki Dou
Lyu Ki Dou developed from studies of various hands-on healing modalities, along with Ai Chi, Tai Chi, and Qi Gong. The name was derived from the Japanese translation of "Floating Life Energy Pathways". Lyu Ki Dou emphasizes the facilitator's self-care, which in turn will benefit the clients/patients that are receiving any type of therapy or exercise programming from an individual who has literally "turned on" this vital life-giving energy source that is inside each of us.
Massage therapists have moved their practice to the water to expand the benefits and applications of massage. Water massage, the use of soft tissue manipulation and body mobilization techniques in water warmer than skin temperature (92F - 93F), is evolving as a therapeutic method. Practitioners find that the use of massage in water is creative, innovative, and individualized, and no two practitioners have the same approach.
Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF)
PNF is an approach to therapeutic exercise which aims to improve motor skill through positive motor transfer, using the principles of facilitation/inhibition, irradiation/reinforcement, and reciprocal innervation. Exercises consist of spiral and diagonal patterns and must incorporate three components of motion: flexion or extension, adduction or abduction, and rotation.
Pilates exercises have been adapted for the pool. Created by Joseph Pilates, this body conditioning program is designed to improve strength, flexibility, and range of motion, and also encourages musculoskeletal alignment. The main tenets are resisting your own weight, controlled breathing, spine alignment, and abdominal strengthening.
Unpredictable Command Technique (UCT)
Created by David Ogden, a PT from Phoenix, AZ, UCT has a goal of progressing the client(s) so that two or more motor movements are done simultaneously. Improved somatic awareness and motor control can be achieved through the challenge to do a variety of constantly-changing familiar and unfamiliar activities. Using the UCT, the author and others have observed client(s) demonstrating improved voluntary control, awareness of movement and body in space, and enhanced mental concentration.
Wassertanzen is a dynamic movement therapy that includes work below the water surface with the aid of nose clips. Wassertanzen means "water dance" and was created in 1987 by Swiss-Germans Arjana Brunschwiler and Aman Schroter. "Wassertanzen is very different from Watsu because of the challenge it presents for a person to surrender control of his breath to go underwater," says Harold Dull, creator of Watsu.
Hatha yoga poses performed in warm, waist- to chest-depth water develop strength and static balance simultaneously. In addition, range of motion increases in coordination with diaphragmatic breathing and long exhalations.
Developed by Harold Dull, watsu (water + shiatsu) is a cradling, one-on-one program that is experienced in a very warm (approx. 94F degrees) pool. The client is held in the water by the practitioner and moved using the water to massage the body. Shiatsu (acupressure) points are stimulated along the meridians of the body during the massage. Watsu is used for pain reduction, increased range of motion, increased circulation, psychological problems, relaxation, and reduction of stress. It has been used in rehabilitation programs for people with orthopedic problems or physical disabilities, for pregnant mothers, and the elderly.
Fluid Yogalates, developed by Dr. Mary Wykle, combines Iyengar Yoga, Pilates, and Ai Chi. Static poses and core stabilization exercises are transitioned with circular movements and emphasis on deep breathing to create a continual fluid program. The objectives are increased body awareness, strength, range of motion, relaxation, and an inward focus.