ability to keep moving is the number one concern of anyone with
pain or common medical conditions such as Arthritis. Each person in a group exercise class may have a different levels of fitness. Therefore
when planning an Mobility or Arthritis program each Instructor must take this
diversity into consideration by thinking about the following considerations.
Who may be coming to the program?
people with arthritis have multiple conditions i.e., a hip or knee
replacement, a mastectomy, lower back problems, osteoporosis, diabetes,
hypertension or depression. Some people with one auto-immune condition
often develop others. Additionally some people have a much lower
tolerance for pain than others. Always enquire how participants are
feeling before beginning a program. Keep your program pain free. One of
the characteristics of arthritis is that the symptoms can come and
go--"wax and wane"--so don't be surprised if there are "good days" and
"bad days". Just coming to an aquatic exercise class is a big
accomplishment on a "bad day"--these are days to "let the water take
care of you". Appearance doesn't necessarily represent how people
feel or how much energy they have. Some people who don't appear to have
arthritis can be feeling a lot of fatigue, pain or stiffness. Others
who have obvious deformity of the joints can be quite comfortable or
active. In this case - appearances DO lie!
Allow Self Paced Exercise
everyone to do as much or as little as they wish and, at their own
pace. In other words, do not force speed or amount of repetitions of an
exercise. Advise stopping an exercise if pain becomes a factor and be
ready to offer modifications or alternative movements. Some participants
may not be able to complete a whole program when they first begin to
exercise. Let them know it is perfectly acceptable for them to complete a
partial class (perhaps the warm up). Also, that it is "Ok" to get out
of the water, if necessary. Assist participants in and out of the pool.
Take time to help beginners, weaker clients and non-swimmers become
adjusted to the water depth and temperature. Always identify
non-swimmers and set boundaries for their comfort and safety.
Use the Properties of water wisely
pressure on submerged joints helps reduce swelling and decreases the
load on the joints. Transitional depth water offers buoyant support with
minimal joint stress, but this depth may be too deep for a non-swimmer
or beginner, which can make them nervous. Additionally, deeper water
requires more core strength and is difficult to maintain posture when
traveling (especially when walking). Therefore, the buoyancy at this
depth may prove too difficult to overcome for a successful workout,
especially for someone who has a body content with a high fat to muscle
ratio. A participant should always work in a water depth that provides
comfort, safety and success, both physically and mentally. WaterART
recommends everyone work at waist to chest depth ( if possible) and if
there is deeper water utilize a noodle or buoyancy belt for safety and
Encourage dressing for safety and warmth
participants to wear shoes to prevent slipping and improve stability.
Use aquatic mitts as a reminder and additional focus that the arms and
hands are an important aid with balance in the water. If the water or
air temperature is cool suggest dressing with a thermal vest, long
sleeve polyester shirt or long polyester tights or leggings. Wearing a
hat and of course moving will also help to thermal regulate the body.