5 Water Exercises That Are Great For People With Disabilities

Sep 03, 2013
Tagged with: 5 Water Exercises That Are Great For People With Disabilities

To me one of the greatest benefits of water for people with and without disabilities is being gravity free. Putting on a neck collar or getting in an inner tube and heading out to the deep end is a great way to lengthen the spine, especially for people who spend a lot of time sitting. Water exercises are particularly helpful for those that have decreased bone density or suffer from pain during normal movements of the body. Not only do water exercises provide pain-free workouts for those with ailments such as osteoarthritis or muscle strains, it is also highly recommended for people with severe disabilities and high blood pressure. In fact, the resistance of water makes it a great environment for those with back pain and musculoskeletal injuries or diseases.

Here are five of the most effective water exercises that are great for people with disabilities.

1) Swimming.

For those that don’t have the ability to swim, a physical therapist or friend can assist by holding your bottom half afloat while you move forward with upward body movement. While it doesn’t do much to help with bone density issues like other water exercises, it does reduce the signs of aging and a nice way to give your entire body a workout.

2) Hand pool walking.

This is an easy exercise and provides tremendous benefits. Get into knee-deep water and simply walk the length of the pool by slowly moving your hands forward one by one. This is a great exercise to build upper-body strength and for those that experience pain in the shoulders or arms.

3) Knee-to-Chest.

Those with limited mobility may need a bit of assistance with this exercise, but it’s certainly worth trying. Place a hand on one side of the pool and then use your free hand to perform a leg stretch in the water, lifting your leg up towards your chest. This is an incredible water exercise for your hips and quadriceps. It also stretches out the lower back and gluteal muscles.

4) Resistance arm-raises.

Supporting yourself on the side of the pool or with an aide, fully extend one arm outward while its completely submerged. The natural resistance from the water provides a pain-free lift to help build muscle and minimize atrophy. This one is relatively easy but you will soon find it’s quite effective. This is great for the arms, shoulders, and upper-back muscles.

5) Total body stretch.

Also known as the Superman stretch, this is performed by placing both hands on the side of the pool and fully extending your body to the best of your ability under water. By stretching out in this way, you should look like you are Superman taking off for flight.

Any of these exercises are a great way for people with disabilities to get in a great full body workout. Of course, do only those exercises that you are comfortable with and check with your doctor if you have any questions.


Before doing any of these exercises, make sure that you are entering a safe aquatic environment with a lifeguard on duty.  Respect your body and what it can and cannot do in water.  Never swim or perform aquatic exercises alone.

Is summer over? Who is ready to head to the pool?



Author: Chris Miller

  • bobl07

    Thank you for the water exercises. It gives me a great excuse to go to the pool.