Whether an injured athlete or just looking to stay in shape, an underwater treadmill can be the ideal exercise tool. These pools have depth-adjustable treadmill floors, resistance jets and a massage hose for use in water therapy, rehabilitation, sports performance training, swimming or deep tissue massage.
Many elite runners and triathletes use hydro treadmills to boost their weekly mileage without the added stress on their joints and bones. A recent TAMU study also found that overweight adults who alternate treadmill workouts with land-based strength training see greater improvements in lean body mass.
A hydro treadmill provides equal pressure around the body to reduce swelling and pain in the joints. This allows you to work your muscles more and gives a better cardiovascular workout than walking or running on land. The treadmill’s incline feature hydro treadmill and jet options also promote higher intensity exercise. This can help re-build strength and increase endurance while reducing the risk of injury.
Those suffering from arthritis or other chronic disease often find it difficult to exercise and may avoid gait training for fear of falling. In chest-deep water, you only carry about 20% of your body weight on the underwater treadmill, making it easier to perform this type of training. This can greatly improve your balance and strengthen your core muscles.
This type of aquatic therapy is becoming increasingly popular and is used by a variety of patients, including athletes. The benefits of this form of training are far greater than that of traditional road workouts, especially when used regularly.
For example, some elite runners who have been sidelined with injuries use an underwater treadmill to continue their training and build strength while healing. One of these athletes reported that he ran 70 miles per week while using the underwater treadmill, allowing him to maintain his mileage without putting too much stress on his injured knees.
Increased Muscle Strength
With the heightened resistance of water, users experience greater muscle-strengthening than they do on land. This helps reduce the need for weight-bearing exercise and speeds up recovery from joint stress. During the rehabilitation process, patients walk or run on an underwater treadmill while strengthening and conditioning their hips, legs, feet, ankles and core. The increased exertion also allows for shorter session times and can be adjusted to fit each patient’s ability. Speeds range from 0.5 mph up to 8.5 mph and can be used with forward or backward walking. Walking backwards strengthens muscles that often weaken in older dogs/pets and can improve jumping capabilities.
With many postsurgical, neurologic or arthritic patients experiencing muscle atrophy and loss of strength, the underwater/hydro treadmill can help increase strength and mobility. Walking on a hydro treadmill for one or two sessions per week can significantly improve the patient’s condition and decrease pain. Increasing the frequency of sessions can accelerate results and allow patients to return to their normal activities sooner.
Some facilities add jets to their hydro treadmills which increases the turbulence of the water and boosts the exertion level for more intense conditioning. This is often recommended for patients with hip dysplasia or athletes that have had a hydro treadmill cruciate ligament injury. A study conducted by TAMU found that athletes who perform both on-land strength training and aquatic treadmill workouts recover faster from injury than those who perform only on-land strength training.
Reduced Joint Stress
The buoyancy of the water in a hydro treadmill reduces the pressure on muscles and joints, making it ideal for people with joint problems. People with chronic diseases such as osteoarthritis and those who are prone to falls often avoid activities like walking and exercise because of the pain that could be caused. The hydrostatic pressure of the water in a HYDRO PHYSIO treadmill pool allows patients to bear only 20% of their weight in chest-deep water, which relieves swelling, relaxes joints and enhances strength and flexibility.
This reduced stress on the body makes it possible for people to walk and exercise longer than they can on land. Moreover, walking on the underwater treadmill strengthens the leg muscles. It also helps to correct faulty postures that can be the result of injuries or arthritis.
Athletes who need to maintain high intensity training sessions but are suffering from injuries or arthritis can use a HydroWorx treadmill, which enables them to work out at a higher level than on land. A therapist can adjust the intensity of a patient’s workout by adjusting the water height and speed.
Many patients are fearful of exercising on an underwater treadmill, but most become more comfortable once they start working out in the water and get used to its resistance. Treats placed on the ramp and tread of the treadmill, or even a frozen cup smeared with peanut butter, can motivate them to try out the equipment.
With a hydro treadmill, you can run or walk at any pace without feeling the impact. The warm water and resistance of the underwater treadmill makes it easy to get a workout without straining joints, muscles or tendons. Whether you are recovering from injury or looking to improve your overall health, walking and running on the underwater treadmill can help you achieve your goals.
Before each trial, the owner would stand in front of their dog holding the leash and the person holding CURO would be on the right side (if needed for assistance a helper was positioned on the left). The dogs were first taken for a short walk at slow and moderate walking speeds (30 m/min and 50 m/min) with a small amount of water covering the belt of the treadmill (water level 0).
At this low level of immersion, the muscles used to support the body are still challenged but less so than when exercising in deep water. Furthermore, because of the decreased stance phase percentage in water and increased buoyancy, it is likely that the demands on propulsive muscles will be reduced as well. Because the heart rate changes significantly with varying depth of submersion in water, evaluating workload based on variations in the heart rate may be challenging.