Hydrotherapy as a Recovery Strategy after Exercise

Researchers from Spain and Australia concluded that hydrotherapy is an adequate strategy to facilitate cardiovascular recovers and perceived fatigue

Antonio I Cuesta-Vargas, Alvaro Travé-Mesa, Alberto Vera-Cabrera, Dario Cruz-Terrón, Adelaida M Castro-Sánchez, Cesar Fernández-de-las-Peñas, Manuel Arroyo-Morales. School of Clinical Science, Faculty of Health Science, Queensland University Technology, Brisbane, Australia, Department of Physical Therapy, Universidad de Granada, Granada, Spain, Sport Spa Club Yo10-Granada, Granada, Spain, Department of Physical Therapy, Universidad de Almeria, Almeria, Spain, Department of Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Alcorcón, Spain, 2013


Our aim was to evaluate the recovery effects of hydrotherapy after aerobic exercise in cardiovascular, performance and perceived fatigue.


A pragmatic controlled repeated measures; single-blind trial was conducted. Thirty-four recreational sportspeople visited a Sport-Centre and were assigned to a Hydrotherapy group (experimental) or rest in a bed (control) after completing a spinning session. Main outcomes measures including blood pressure, heart rate, handgrip strength, vertical jump, self-perceived fatigue, and body temperature were assessed at baseline, immediately post-exercise and post-recovery. The hypothesis of interest was the session time interaction.

Exercise session

The spinning session was performed using the same protocol for all participants after a 24 h physical rest as suggested. Participants were asked to perform this session as a regular spinning class. The session was carried out in the afternoon (room temperature 22±3.5°C) on a modified spinning bike (Keiser®, M3). They were allowed to drink water during the session and completed the spinning session while listening to a compilation of music that lasted 50 min and was composed of 9 tracks.

Each track corresponded to a specific phase of the spinning session. The phases were labeled as warm-up, sitting, seated climbing, jumping, and running, based on the official spinning program manual. Some phases were repeated during the session, the compilation being purposely designed for beginners in a spinning class. In addition to the music protocol, participants were asked to maintain a pedal stroke cadence that had previously been established for each track. For the resistance applied to the flywheel, they were free to adjust it according to their sensation and interpretation of the spinning session.

Recovery procedures

Experimental group

A cycle of 3 Vichy shower and whirlpool baths were applied during 30-minutes period. Vichy sedative shower was applied for 90–120 sec to the sides of the trunk and the abdomen, avoiding as much as possible the gall bladder area, at a temperature of 36-38°C. A short, partial jet spray followed the shower. A whirlpool bath was administered where subjects immersed the body until their clavicle level for a 10min period with a water temperature ranging 33.5-35.5°C. Aromatherapy application using lavender and chamomile oils was used in all hydrotherapy sessions.

Control group

The control group performed a rest session in supine position in a room with neutral temperature condition with a same duration to hydrotherapy session. Participants of both groups were encouraged to drink water “ad libitum” to prevent dehydration.


The analysis revealed significant session time interactions for diastolic blood pressure (P=0.031), heart rate (P=0.041), self perceived fatigue (P=0.046), and body temperature (P=0.001); but not for vertical jump (P=0.437), handgrip (P=0.845) or systolic blood pressure (P=0.266). Post-hoc analysis revealed that hydrotherapy resulted in recovered heart rate and diastolic blood pressure similar to baseline values after the spinning session. Further, hydrotherapy resulted in decreased self-perceived fatigue after the spinning session.


Our results support that hydrotherapy is an adequate strategy to facilitate cardiovascular recovers and perceived fatigue, but not strength, after spinning exercise.

Reference: www.biomedcentral.com/1472-6882/13/180

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