By Physiotherapist Jordan Coffey.

What is hydrotherapy?

Hydrotherapy is the use of water for therapy, exercise, rehabilitation, pain-relief, and relaxation. At 4Lane Physiotherapy any of our Physiotherapy team are able to write you a personalised hydrotherapy program, that we will laminate and you can take to your own personal or local pool.

What is hydrotherapy used for?

Hydrotherapy is used to rehabilitate patients suffering from a wide range of clinical conditions. Common conditions include osteoarthritis, pre and post-operative surgeries, spinal cord injury, rheumatoid arthritis, lower back pain, musculoskeletal disease, neurological disease, fibromyalgia, hypertension, stroke, and chronic heart failure.

Effects of hydrotherapy?

Water’s buoyancy decreases the load and stress placed on weight bearing joints so patients are able to tolerate movements in the pool with less pain compared to land-based exercise. Hydrostatic pressure of water promotes circulation, increased blood flow to major organs, relieves pain, reduces swelling, and adds increased full body resistance.

Benefits of hydrotherapy:

  • Decreases stress placed on weight bearing structures
  • Assists range of motion for patients who cannot lifting their extremities against gravity (i.e. patients with impaired nerve function due to spinal surgery, injury, or stroke)
  • Allows for muscle strengthening with decreased joint stress
  • Promotes circulation to local tissues
  • Increased blood flow to major organs
  • Relieves pain by dampening sympathetic nervous system activity
  • Reduces swelling
  • Applies full body resistance for added support and reduced falls risk
  • May improve sleep
  • Enhances mood
  • Weight loss

What does the research say?

Pre-rehabilitative aquatic therapy prior to joint replacement surgery has been show to decrease post-operative length of stay in hospital, improve quality of life, reduce blood pressure, improve WOMAC (Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Arthritis Index) scores, improve chair stand scores, improve self-mobility, and improve depression.

Hydrotherapy after lower extremity joint replacement has been shown to accelerate knee musculature recovery. Objective measures such as gait speed, stair climbing time, stair navigation, knee flexion and extension power, thigh cross sectional area, hip abductor strength, and quadriceps strength has been statistically proven to improve post-operatively after aquatic therapy.

Aquatic exercise has a small but statistically significant greater effect on pain relief, function, quality of life, mental health, and increased voluntary muscle contractions during water immersion compared to balneotherapy alone.

There is evidence suggesting hydrotherapy has a positive role in improving physical health in patients with rheumatoid arthritis in the short term. Rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic, chronic, and inflammatory disease which attacks healthy cells in the body by mistake. This causes painful swelling and deformity in several joints.

Hydrotherapy has been proven to be effective in relieving pain and improving functional capacity in individuals with chronic low back pain. Patients participating in hydrotherapy demonstrated a faster recovery compared to patients undergoing conventional therapy.

In patients with chronic heart failure, hydrotherapy demonstrated an improvement in quality of life and significant reduction in heart-failure-related symptoms. Resting heart rate and perceived work load were significantly reduced. 

Contraindications to participating in hydrotherapy.

Serious Contraindications Absolute Contraindications

Cardiovascular or cardiopulmonary disease
Balance disorder
History of CVA
Fever over 100°
Skin conditions
Chlorine allergy

Contagious diseases
Urinary tract infection
Serious Epilepsy
Urinary incontinence
Open Wounds
Recent Surgery < 2 weeks
Hydrophobia or extreme fear of water
Involuntary diarrhea
bowel incontinence



If you are interested in getting a personalised hydrotherapy program written for you, please call the clinic on 9756 7424 or book online  for an initial assessment. Based on your goals, assessment findings, and physical ability one of our physiotherapists will then be able to put together an appropriate hydrotherapy program for you. The closest public aquatic centre to 4Lane Physiotherapy is Geographe Leisure centre  in West Busselton.

Cancellation Policy

We have a same day cancellation policy where a $50 fee will be charged for missed or cancelled appointments. Please call 9756 7424 or email to reschedule or cancel Thank you for your understanding.

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(1) D’Lima DD, Colwell Jr CW, Morris BA, Hardwick ME, Kozin F. The effect of preoperative exercise on total knee replacement outcomes. Clin Orthop Relat Res 1996;326:174–82.

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(3) Jimenez C, Regnard J, Robinet C, et al. Whole body immersion and hydromineral homeostasis: effect of water temperature. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2010;108(1):49-58. doi:10.1007/s00421-009-1187-2

(4) Kamioka H, Tsutani K, Okuizumi H, Mutoh Y, Ohta M, Handa S, Okada S, Kitayuguchi J, Kamada M, Shiozawa N, Honda T. Effectiveness of aquatic exercise and balneotherapy: a summary of systematic reviews based on randomized controlled trials of water immersion therapies. J Epidemiol. 2010;20(1):2-12. doi: 10.2188/jea.je20090030. Epub 2009 Oct 31. PMID: 19881230; PMCID: PMC3900774.

(5) Khamis Y. Al-Qubaeissy MD, Francis A. Fatoye PhD, Peter C. Goodwin PhD, Abebaw M. Yohannes PhD, MSc, FCCP.The Effectiveness of Hydrotherapy in the Management of Rheumatoid Arthritis: A Systematic Review. Musculoskeletal Care. 2013; 11 (1): 3-18.

(6) Kim, S., Hsu, FC., Groban, L. et al. A pilot study of aquatic prehabilitation in adults with knee osteoarthritis undergoing total knee arthroplasty – short term outcome. BMC Musculoskelet Disord 22, 388 (2021).

(7) Lori T. Brody, Paula R. Geigle (2009) Aquatic Exercise for Rehabilitation and Training. United states of America: Human Kinetics.

(8) Morrow, Lindsay, and L. A. McGee. “Aquatic Intervention for Patients with Lower Extremity Osteoarthritis.” injury 2: 3.

(9) Pozzi F, Snyder-Mackler L, Zeni J. Physical exercise after knee arthroplasty: a systematic review of controlled trials. Eur J Phys Rehabil Med. 2013;49(6):877-892.