<strong>What Happens In a Hydrotherapy Session?</strong>

What Happens In a Hydrotherapy Session?

Hydrotherapy can be incredibly beneficial for children diagnosed with genetic, orthopaedic, neurological, or developmental conditions, but what exactly is involved in hydrotherapy? And what does a typical session look like? In this article, our physiotherapy team will explore what a hydrotherapy session looks like, including the movements and the activities involved, how you should prepare, and more. 

What happens during a hydrotherapy session? During a hydrotherapy session, your child or young person will perform a number of in-water exercises under the guidance of a physiotherapist, which includes but is not limited to:

  • Floating
  • Stretching
  • Balancing
  • Walking or marching
  • Games 

Read on to find out more about what happens in a hydrotherapy session, how long they last, and other commonly asked questions that we get from our parents. 

What Does a Hydrotherapy Session Include?

Hydrotherapy sessions typically include a number of physical activities that are performed in water rather than on dry land. Each session will be tailored to the needs of the child and may differ depending on their confidence, levels of ability, and conditions they may be diagnosed with. Hydrotherapy exercises could include floating, stretches, balancing, and even games! Physiotherapists will aim to make the session a complete sensory experience to improve a child’s enjoyment, so your hydrotherapy session may include pool floats, toys, music, and lights. 

Hydrotherapy comes with several benefits for children and young people diagnosed with genetic, developmental, orthopaedic, or neurological conditions. If you’d like to find out more about the benefits of hydrotherapy, you might find one of our recent blog posts useful.

Typical hydrotherapy exercises include but are not limited to:


Floating helps a child or young person to improve their general body awareness and develops their understanding of how they can keep themselves afloat whilst in water. Floating may also offer pain relief from the warmth and buoyancy of the pool, which is beneficial for children diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy, Chronic Arthritis, or those with joint injuries.


Something as simple as walking in water can bring several benefits to those who might struggle on dry land, or those who use a wheelchair. The buoyancy of the water helps relieve the pressure on bones and joints making these movements easier. Walking or marching in water also helps to strengthen and tone muscles over time.


Guided stretching can have a huge positive impact on chronic pain, particularly when performed in water, whilst also promoting the healing of damaged muscles from strain or injury. The warmth of the hydrotherapy pool water often makes movements, such as basic stretches, easier for those diagnosed with conditions like Hypertonia


We include several balancing exercises during a hydrotherapy session due to the improvements it brings to joint proprioception and muscle reaction times. Improving one’s sense of balance can also help to prevent falls and decrease the risk of injury in many children and young adults. Typical balance exercises might include standing on one leg for an extended period of time, leg lifts, sitting balance on an aquaplinth or walking in a straight line.


Although this might sound like an unusual activity, games (such as ring toss or catching a ball) can help develop a child’s balance and hand-eye coordination, which can benefit children diagnosed with conditions including Dyspraxia, high-tone muscles, and developmental delay. Not only can pool games offer physical benefits, but activities like these also improve a child’s social skills and confidence, as well as boost engagement and overall enjoyment of a hydrotherapy session. 


Hydrotherapists are movement experts who will tailor the exercises and activities towards the ability, needs, and goals of each individual, so not every hydrotherapy session will look the same.

How Long Does a Hydrotherapy Session Last?

A hydrotherapy session typically lasts one hour to one hour and 15 minutes, however, your dedicated slot will include changing time, as well as time for getting in and out of the pool. Your child will have around 30-40 minutes of in-pool time with a children’s physiotherapist in the warm water.

How Early Should I Arrive For a Hydrotherapy Appointment?

We’d suggest arriving at your hydrotherapy pool at the time specified on your booking information. There is no need to arrive earlier as dedicated time to get changed and into the pool is factored into your slot. 

What is Required Before Starting Hydrotherapy?

Before booking any hydrotherapy sessions for your child, we will require a registration form to be completed so that we have the information that we need  about your child. A dedicated physiotherapist may then contact you if required, to gather further information on your child’s current abilities, needs, goals, as well as outlining how they’ll work to achieve them.  The hydrotherapy questionnaire will also ask you to outline your child’s medical history, other professionals involved in your child’s healthcare, and any other important bits of information that a physiotherapist may need to know. In addition, we require a full screening form to be completed for each child. 

When you get to the hydrotherapy pool, you’ll be greeted by a member of our physiotherapy team who will check your child’s medical record and confirm that there are no changes before being shown to a changing room. From there, your child or young person will be assisted into the pool by a physiotherapist and the session will start. 

Can My Child Eat Before Hydrotherapy?

Just like swimming, you shouldn’t eat immediately before going into the hydrotherapy pool, as this could lead to your child experiencing cramps or potentially feelings of nausea during the session. We’d suggest eating at least one hour beforehand and sticking to lighter snacks, such as fruit or popcorn, where possible.

What Should Your Child Wear For Hydrotherapy?

There is no special requirement for what you might want to wear for a hydrotherapy session. We would suggest basic swimwear or a wetsuit that they feel comfortable in. If your child requires continence products, bring those along too. If you’d like to explore continence swimwear, we’d recommend the brands Incy Wincy and Splash About

Our physiotherapists don’t recommend baggy or loose clothes in the water, as this could make it harder to hold onto your child or young adult during exercises. 

Children’s Hydrotherapy From Therapy Stars

If you think your child would benefit from a hydrotherapy session from Therapy Stars, why not get in touch with our team of trained physiotherapists? We use a state-of-the-art hydrotherapy pool based in Shropshire, with a number of weekly appointments available in 6-week blocks. To find out more, explore our Children’s Hydrotherapy page. 

We also offer several other physiotherapy services for children and young people, including Intensive Physiotherapy and Clinical Pilates. Simply explore our website or reach out to us for advice or recommendations.