7 Ways Aquatic Therapy Can Get You Back From An Injury
If you are suffering from an injury, you may find the rehabilitation process difficult when experiencing constant pain, decreases in strength, and/or fear of worsening the injury. Hydrathletics’ specialized aquatic therapy provides a safe and supportive environment to exercise and ease the transition back to full weight-bearing activity. Here are a few of the ways that aquatic therapy at Hydrathletics can improve your rehabilitation process:
Taking the weight off
The buoyancy of the water in our specialized aquatic therapy pools supports your body weight so you don’t have to. From waist to shoulder level immersion, approximately 50-80% of your body weight can be removed while exercising. This makes performing movements easier compared to a land-based approach, which also allows you to progress your rehabilitation quicker than you would in a traditional recovery program.
Helping to strengthen and mobilize the injured area
Water applies resistance in every direction. In fact, water is 800 times denser than air. At Hydrathletics this resistance can be adjusted by changes in treadmill speed, use of resistance jets, or altering the amount of body surface in contact with the water. Various properties of water decrease the compressive weight-bearing stresses and pressures on the body’s joints, which allows for functional exercise in the water to help improve or maintain strength. The exercises you can complete in the water are similar to those on land, however, the water allows for an increased number of repetitions and building strength through a greater range of motion.
Our brain and body is an incredible compensator and it will work to get you from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’ regardless of the injury. Unfortunately, this often means creating less efficient movement patterns that can lead to further discomfort or injury in the future. At Hydrathletics, we have high definition underwater cameras to provide real-time visual feedback in order to understand your current movement patterns and to correct compensations. This feedback can include analyzing your walking and running gait, jumping and landing mechanics, or your form during squats and lunges to ensure you are learning how to correct any compensations and move even better than you did prior to your injury.
Building new nervous system pathways
Your muscles aren’t working alone during an aquatic therapy session. Your brain and central nervous system are continuously building new connections to muscles and strengthening existing ones. Function of the premotor cortex of the brain will also improve from the corrective movement feedback. The more you perform a certain action correctly, the easier it becomes. When you are ready to transition from water to land training, your motor cortex will be readily activated and prepared to perform the movements you have already been working on and guide you through a successful transition. In addition, the strength and mobility gained during aquatic therapy further supports the transition to land, ensuring you are ready to perform movements at a full weight baring capacity.
Aquatic therapy has proven to relieve pain and symptoms in multiple disorders. Studies have shown that patients with osteoarthritis had improved balance, function, mobility, and reduced joint pain after participating in a 6-week aquatic treadmill exercise program.1 Similar studies have shown symptom and pain improvements in patients with fibromyalgia2, post-op ACL tears3, and stroke survivors4, while rehabbing in a pool. Aquatic therapy allows people of all abilities to perform activities with lessened pain and symptoms associated with weight-bearing.
Enhancing mental health
Aquatic therapy can help with mental health as well. The visual feedback allows you to see yourself doing movements you haven’t performed since pre-injury. As you become stronger and more mobile your confidence will also increase. State-of-the-art equipment, progressive individualized programs, and most importantly, one-on-one support and attention from our practitioners will help motivate you through the challenges of your rehabilitation process.
One of the biggest challenges when rehabilitating an injury is finding a way to maintain your conditioning or cardiovascular health. Our aquatic treadmill is the perfect way to walk and/or run whether you are a high-performance athlete or someone looking to enhance your health. This includes walking for longer durations or at higher effort levels with less discomfort due to the support of the water. As you progress, you can begin jogging and running far earlier than you can on land with less impact and stress on your joints and injured areas. This means a quicker return to your training goals or ensuring your heart stays healthy in a time that is often associated with reduced activity levels.
Contact us today to ask how our aquatic treadmill can help you recover from an injury, surgery, chronic pain, work within your performance goals, or aid in recovery.
- Bressel,E., Wing, J., Miller, A., Dolny, D. “High-Intensity Interval Training on an Aquatic Treadmill in Adults with Osteoarthritis: Effects on Pain, Balance, Function, and Mobility”. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. (2014) 28:2088-2096
- Lima, T., Dias, J.,Mazuquin, B., Da Silva, C., Nogueira, R. “The effectiveness of aquatic physical therapy in the treatment of fibromyalgia: a systematic review with meta-analysis”. Clinical Rehabilitation. (2013) 27:892-908
- McClintock, J., Kirkley, A., Fowler, P. “PROSPECTIVE RANDOMIZED CLINICAL TRAIL OF STANDARD PHYSIOTHERAPY VERSUS AQUATIC THERAPY FOR REHABILIATION OF THE ACL RECONSTRUCTED KNEE”. Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine. (1995) 5:272
- Noh, D., Lim, J., Shin, H., Paik, N. “The effect of aquatic therapy on postural balance and muscle strength in stroke survivors – a randomized controlled pilot trial”. Clinical Rehabilitation (2007) 22:966-976