“No pain, no gain.” You’ve heard it, but what if it doesn’t have to be true? Hydrotherapy treadmill manufacturers are helping athletes and patients rehabilitate faster and without pain.
“Water is a great medium to exercise in,” said Timothy Miller, Regional Director of Sports Rehabilitation at St. Luke’s Physical Therapy in Pennsylvania. Traditionally, water fitness has included swimming, water aerobics and basic flexibility exercises, but aqua treadmills have expanded the options. Now patients can walk and jog under water. Where a person might be able to walk only five to ten minutes on land, they can complete longer sessions on an underwater treadmill, which means restarting physical activity earlier and without pain.
What kind of injuries will an underwater treadmill help with?
Miller, speaking with Runners World, said that the most common injuries include running injuries such as achilles tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, iliotibial band syndrome and generic knee pain.
It also helps with rehabbing after ankle sprains, fractures, ACL reconstruction and other knee surgeries.
How does an underwater treadmill help rehabilitation?
Water is the game-changer. Underwater treadmill manufacturers have combined land-based exercise with the benefits of water: hydrostatic pressure and the principle of buoyancy.
These benefits offer the body a chance to maintain muscle memory for common activities such as walking and jogging. Underwater treadmills allow muscles to function sooner for better mobility.
They help patients regain coordination and can improve or sustain their balance, gait, and flexibility through the underwater treadmill’s accessories.
What is hydrostatic pressure?
Hydrostatic pressure is water’s force surrounding around all the immersed parts of the body.
It provides gentle support as well as resistance. Its equal pressure all around the body is proven to reduce swelling and stress on joints yet it also increases flexibility.
Because walking or jogging in water creates greater resistance than the same activity on land, it maintains overall fitness: muscle tone, cardiovascular strength, and form.
It provides comparable cardiovascular benefits and can even increase muscle tone when combined with weight bearing exercises on land.
What is the principle of buoyancy?
The principle of buoyancy is how much water displaces a person’s weight and reduces impact on the joints and muscles while working out. A person aqua-jogging in waist deep water has a 50% reduction in weight impact.
Chest height immersion reduces weight impact by 75%. In other words, the body feels 25% lighter while working out.
According to Miller, “This lowers the impact forces on an existing injury so you can begin therapy sooner while retaining muscle strength and conditioning.”
What are some of the other therapeutic benefits?
Besides the benefits of water, hydrotherapy treadmills can allow for temperature-controlled rehabilitation to reduce swelling and edema.
Adjustable water levels allow for changes in buoyancy and resistance. In addition, aqua treadmills used in rehab can improve overall quality of life.
For athletes, the pain of an injury is compounded by the psychological stress about losing training time and overall fitness. Being able to use an underwater treadmill to start rehabbing earlier helps reduce psychological distress. Some athletes use underwater treadmills for “recovery days,” when they want to reduce the impact of adding more miles on their joints and bones. For patients of all kinds, physical activity improves quality of life, including quality of sleep, metabolism and cognitive abilities. Recovering faster using a hydrotherapy treadmill benefits anyone facing rehab.