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Life Begins In Water...


By Fezia Tyebally

Halliwick Lecturer

LMT, MAPT. Dip CST

ATU Campus Director, (Malaysia/Singapore),

and Co-Founder of Amirs Gym



"Life begins in Water, even before we are born, we live our life in water.



We grow and play in the water of life (Aqua Vitae) in our mother’s womb.


The unborn baby moves naturally in this environment with the sensory systems stimulated by its own and the mother’s movement.


The buoyancy allows for free movements in 3 dimensions.


Water stimulates the tactile system over the entire surface of the body, with input constantly changing as both water and child move and different parts of the body break the surface every now and then.

The tactile receptors cannot habituate because of the ever-changing stimulation received.


Hydrostatic pressure gives deep pressure on the whole body. In the water one seldom experiences tactile defensiveness.


The vestibular system also receives plenty of input in the water which allows movement in both the vertical and horizontal planes and all planes in between.

This offers a greater variety of positions and movements, more so than on land.

Balance is constantly challenged by turbulence.

The body rotates in the water as soon as it is not symmetrical in shape and therefore one must work hard at balance control, to initiate desired movements or inhibit undesired movements.

These postural adjustments give rise to vestibular input.

Most of the body should be submerged and the children are not able to compensate for poor processing of vestibular information through vision, as they cannot see their body.


The proprioceptive sense is also enhanced in the water.

Without a firm support surface, movement in the water is free and the sensation of movement is experienced strongly because of the resistance from the water.

However, because of buoyancy, there is less proprioceptive input from the legs and trunk when standing shoulder deep in the pool than in the same position on land.

The decrease in pressure to the joints and resistance to the muscles means there is a need to pay greater attention to body positions when stationary in the pool, but Water is always moving to maintain a position, one must counteract the force of water, which generates proprioceptive input.


In addition to the tactile, vestibular, and proprioceptive systems, other sensory systems also receive different input than when on land.


Aquatic Therapy provides opportunities to actively participate in enhanced tactile, vestibular, and proprioceptive sensations and it demands adaptive responses.


A carefully designed aquatic therapy programme promotes praxis, sensory modulation and successful engagement and there is a carry over to land based therapy. "





Find out more about the principals of the Halliwick approach to therapy and swim instruction in Halliwick Foundation course with international lecturer Fezia Tyebally who is making her way to Perth in October 2022 to teach at our new Alfred Cove centre!