Water-Based Exercises for Chronic Pain Conditions

April 28, 2017 in Our News & Bulletins by Uptown HC

Several recent studies analyzed the effects of exercising in water on chronic pain conditions. Results show that water-based exercises are effective in relieving pain in everything from osteoarthritis to fibromyalgia to back pain. A small study of knee osteoarthritis patients, age 46-77, finds that aqua-cycling provides immediate pain relief and reduction for participants.1 In a 2016 study involving women with fibromyalgia, researchers report that 10 treatment sessions of water-based Ai Chi (which is similar to Tai Chi in a pool) led to significant improvements in pain perception, energy, emotional health and overall quality of life.2 Another study also shows that deep-water running significantly reduces pain and disability among people with low back pain.3


Researchers give several reasons for this. There is very little impact to the body’s bones and joints due to the buoyancy of the water. The pressure of the water reduces swelling in injured tissues. Additionally, water exercise improves range of motion and flexibility because water works the both the flexor and extensor muscles.


So find a water-based exercise program at a pool or gym near you, and take the plunge!



  1. Rewald S, Mesters I, Emans P, et al. Aquatic circuit training including aqua-cycling in patients with knee osteoarthritis: a feasibility study. Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine, 2015; 47(4): 376-381.
  2. de la Cruz S, Lambeck J. A new approach to the improvement of quality of life in fibromyalgia: a pilot study on the effects of an aquatic Ai Chi program. International Journal of Rheumatic Diseases, doi:10.1111/1756-185X.12930.
  3. Cuesta-Vargas A, García-Romero J, Arroyo-Morales M, et al. Exercise, manual therapy, and education with or without high-intensity deep-water running for nonspecific chronic low back pain: a pragmatic randomized controlled trial. American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, 90(7): 526-538.
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