Watsu Watsu


The following is from an article on the benefits of Watsu® for those with special needs by the Physical Therapist, Peggy Schoedinger. There is a link to the full article and precautions at the bottom of this page. What is excerpted below are those benefits everybody receives in a Watsu. Additional benefits can be found on other pages in this site such as those in the responses to a study in Brazil .

Watsu is a passive form of aquatic bodywork/therapy that supports and gently moves a person through warm water in graceful, fluid movements. Watsu promotes a deep state of relaxation with dramatic changes in the autonomic nervous system. Through quieting the sympathetic and enhancing the parasympathetic nervous systems, Watsu has profound effects on the neuromuscular system.

The sympatholytic effects of Watsu lead to enhancement of the parasympathetic nervous system. Physiological changes then occur throughout the body. These changes may include:

  • Decreased heart rate.
  • Decreased rate of respiration
  • Increased depth of respiration
  • Increased peripheral vasodilatation
  • Increased smooth muscle activity (digestion)
  • Decreased activation of striated muscles (skeletal)
  • Decreased spasticity
  • Decreased muscle spasm
  • Decreased Reticular Activating System activity
  • Enhanced immune system response

Watsu helps decrease muscle tension and increase range of motion. The support of the water provides relief from compression forces in the joints. The movements through the water provide gentle stretching into all ranges for the spine and extremities while these joints are unloaded.

Clients report decreased pain as Watsu decreases their muscle spasm and muscle guarding, increases their range of motion, and promotes profound relaxation. Many clients also report a decrease in their emotional pain.

Therapists utilizing Watsu as part of their aquatic therapy treatment programs report the following improvements in their clients:

1. Immediate Benefits With First Session

  • increased range of motion
  • increased muscle relaxation
  • decreased muscle spasm
  • decreased spasticity
  • decreased pain

2. Long-term Benefits After Multiple Sessions

  • improved sleep patterns
  • improved digestion
  • improved healing and immune system response
  • greater decreases in pain
  • decreased anxiety
  • many clients report a decrease in their emotional pain

Watsu is being incorporated into aquatic therapy treatment programs in hospitals, clinics and rehabilitation centers around the world. Therapists are impressed by the benefits for so many of their clients. Some of the many populations who have benefited include those with

  • traumatic brain injury
  • spinal cord injury
  • strokes
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • arthritis
  • cerebral palsy
  • chronic pain
  • fibromyalgia
  • ankylosing spondylitis
  • post mastectomy
  • post thoracic surgery
  • post traumatic stress disorder.

Many clients report that nothing else is as effective in decreasing their pain and improving their ability to move.

Peggy Schoedinger is an instructor of Watsu 1, 2 and 3 who who has taught Watsu since 1990 in Aquatic Therapy seminars on five continents. She has used Watsu in thousands of hours of work with those with special needs. She has contributed an expanded chapter on Watsu for those with Special Needs in the latest edition of the Watsu book.

Watsu® is a registered service mark of Harold Dull.
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