Patients in Pain in Your Water Workout Class

Nearly every time we teach a water exercise class, people who are injured or are thinking about surgery show up. It’s a natural place for them to come – the water reduces their pain and supports their bodies as they exercise without aggravating the sore areas.  Here are some tips on how to handle the class:

  • Put a flotation belt on every student who complains of pain as they sign in for class. Even if your pool is mostly shallow water, the flotation belt will significantly reduce impact and allow them to move more easily.
  • Learn everyone’s names so you can easily get their attention if you’re starting a new exercise you think could harm them. Give them a modified, easier version or have them do something else while the rest of the class performs that exercise of concern.
  • Find a mentor such as an MD, DC, PT, or ATC who will help you learn more about the most common complaints to ankles, knees, hips, backs, and shoulders. The more you know, the better you can advise your students and slightly alter exercises specifically for their needs.
  • Have students stop any exercise that causes pain and signal to you. Have them make one of these basic modifications: 1) move to slightly deeper water, 2) move or slowly, 3) narrow the range of motion. If none of those work, have them perform an easier exercise.

Pay attention to how students do after you try a specific exercise and make note for future use. Underdo any new exercise – they can always do more the next time they return to class.  It’s amazing how much we learn from our own students, so keep teaching and learning!

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