The Gift of Water

Feb 26, 2014
Tagged with: The Gift of Water

 

Have you ever gone into water, sunk down to your shoulders, and felt the tension in your body float away?  I hope you have.  As someone who works in water nearly every day, I find myself asking what is it about water that feels so good?  What unique environment do those 2 Hydrogen atoms and 1 Oxygen create?  Well, let’s take a look at the physical properties of water.

Buoyancy

technical definition – the property of a fluid to exert an upward force (up-thrust) on a body that is wholly or partly submerged in it.

For people who experience stiffness or pain in their bodies due to conditions like arthritis or CP or obesity, buoyancy offers a lift – literally.  When a body is submerged in water at chest depth, 75% of the weight is held by the water.

Viscosity

technical definition – a measurement of how resistant a fluid is to attempts to move through it. A fluid with a low viscosity is said to be “thin,” while a high viscosity fluid is said to be “thick.” For example, honey has a thicker viscosity than water.

We are accustomed to air and gravity, but in water we are experience buoyancy and viscosity.  When we move, the water moves, too.  We feel the wave we have generated by walking or opening our arms and that feeling creates greater kinesthetic (the sense that detects bodily position, weight, or movement of the muscles, tendons, and joints) awareness.

Hydrostatic Pressure

technical definition – the pressure exerted by a fluid at equilibrium at a given point within the fluid, due to the force of gravity. Hydrostatic pressure increases in proportion to depth measured from the surface because of the increasing weight of fluid exerting downward force from above.

The deeper we go in water, the greater the hydrostatic pressure.  This pressure creates a greater force on the body. For someone who wants a more intense workout, going deep (as long as this is SAFE!) is the place to get it.

Temperature

technical definition – a measure of the warmth or coldness of an object or substance with reference to some standard value.

For people with pain, stiffness, and spasticity, warm water (92-94 degrees F) is the better environment because muscles relax due to the warmth.  For people with lymphedema or neuropathy, cooler water (82-86 degrees F) helps with venous return, reduces swelling, and provides more pressure than warmer water, which aids in moving lymph.  Some people with MS are sensitive to heat, making cooler water a better environment for exercising.

Turbulence: 

technical definition – the motion of water where local velocities (speed) fluctuate and the direction of flow changes.

Turbulence can be almost non-existent by moving slowly through water and continuing in one direction.  It can be increased by adding speed and changing direction.  The property of turbulence in water is like an all-in-one weight machine.  The weight or resistance of the water on the body moving through it changes according to how the body is moving.

The X Factor:

technical definition – a hard-to-describe influence or quality.

All the above properties of water, contribute to the soothing effect it has on our bodies.  Yet, I propose there is something else we respond to while in water.  Something within us knows that we have come home.  As infants, we are nearly 90% water that percentage decreases as we grow and mature, landing between 50% and 60%.  People who have not been in water for decades say, “Oh, it does feel awfully good.”  Yes, it does. Come on home!  So, what are your favorite exercises in the water? How does water benefit you?

Author: Elizabeth Vander Kamp



  • bobl07

    As always Elizabeth, your posts make me want to participate in your topic. Acting, dancing, and now water. I can’t wait for the next topic. Water was very important during my recovery as it was used to relief aches and pains. It was also a soothing element after my operations.

  • Elizabeth Vander Kamp

    Bob, thank you for sharing about how water helped during your recovery and your kind comments.

  • Mom of 3

    This is a great article Elizabeth. I am reminded why my daughter enjoys the water so much. I think the water gives her more freedom of movement and also helps relax her tightened muscles. Thanks for the information.

  • Elizabeth Vander Kamp

    Hello Mom of 3, I am so glad you enjoyed the article and hope your daughter makes it a life long habit! I hope that for all of us! Thank you so much for your comments.

  • Marie

    Thoroughly enjoyed reading why water feels so good and we enjoy so many benefits from moving through it!

  • Elizabeth Vander Kamp

    Hi Marie – thank you. Yes, we do enjoy so many benefits from moving through water! Let’s keep it up!