WATSU Body Movement Overview

By: Dzhingarov

Watsu is a very interesting aquatic bodywork technique that is used for achieving deep relaxation and will basically be an aquatic therapy. It is one of the body movement techniques that are based on one-on-one sessions, seeing the therapist slowly stretching, moving, massaging and cradling the client while in warm water, chest-deep.

Watsu Origins


Watsu was originally developed in California in the eighties by Harold Dull by combining different elements of dance, muscle stretching, massage and joint mobilization. Zen shiatsu was adapted to be used in a warm water pool. The emphasis was put on achieving meditative state while regulating breathing patterns. It was observed that the relaxation state achieved was deep, with emotional and physical effects that were really strong. As time passed, many practitioners actually picked it up and used it to treat various nerologic and orthopedic problems.

Watsu Sessions


During the session, the provider, a therapist or a practitioner, will perform moves like the ones mentioned above. The regular session is made out of a clear progression of movement patterns, massage and breathing coordination. The movement patterns will include gentle rocking and cradling. One session can last from just some minutes to over an hour, based on various different factors. The condition of the patient is constantly memorized.

Before the session starts, there will be a meeting where questions will be answered and discussions will be held in order to properly analyze everything associated with what is about to happen. The start sees receivers crouched or seated at the edge of the pool.

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Watsu can be adapted for those patients that need special attention. For instance, if there is a client that has severe spasticity, turbulent drags are not enough for the body to stretch. In this case, more pressure will be applied and the focus will be much stronger on stretching. Floating devices can be used in various situations.

Watsu Health Benefits


There are various health benefits that are associated with Watsu and that are properly documented. The physiological ones are those that are the strongest, with patients ending up with better respiration rates and a decrease in muscle tone. There is a deep relaxation that appears, which is always beneficial, with the warm water helping out a lot. At the same time, stress reduction is really common as a health benefit.



Just as with all the aquatic activities that you may be faced with, Watsu does have some risks that are inherent. Providers have to constantly analyze and observe movements so that safety is always as high as it should be. That is especially the case in the event that there are illnesses or injuries where too much movement can lead to harm, with examples being osteoporosis or acute rheumatoid arthritis.