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The Importance of Mobility

The 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?

Many 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

Encourage 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
Hydrostatic 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 support.

Encourage dressing for safety and warmth

Advise 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.

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