My physician has written me a prescription for aquatic therapy. She thinks this could really help keep me in good condition despite the chronic low back pain I'm struggling with. To be honest, I'm really afraid of the water. Will it really help if I'm panicking?
It's true that not everyone is comfortable in a pool of water -- especially if it's over your head and you are struggling to stay afloat. But in the right setting, it could be very reminiscent of being in the womb -- calm and relaxing.
Warm water that supports your weight because of its buoyance takes a load off your joints -- literally. At the same time, with aquatic therapy, it's possible to work on improving balance, coordination, motion, and strength without fear of reinjury or increased symptoms afterwards. That's because you control the amount of resistance by altering the speed with which you move and the height of the water.
Find a program that is conducted in a pool of water that is waist-to-chest deep. Avoid situations where you have to be in the deep end. If you are feeling panicked and can't relax, aquatic therapy may not be for you. Remember to breath slowly and consistently. Holding the breath only increases a sense of panic and anxiety.
Let the instructor know of your concerns. A little extra support and enouragement from that individual can go a long way in helping you adjust. Give aquatic therapy a try -- under the right circumstances, you may be pleasantly surprised at what you can accomplish!