Have you been injured as a runner and want to return to your sport sooner? A hydro treadmill may be your answer.
The turbulence in water increases your exertion level, working your cardiovascular and muscular systems more intensely than if you were walking on a normal treadmill. This can help you reach your fitness goals faster and more safely.
Reduces Stress on Joints
The weightless environment of an aquatic treadmill removes the jarring impact of normal walking or exercise on land. A study by the University of Utah showed that walking on an underwater treadmill caused a similar amount of energy expenditure as on a regular treadmill, but subjects experienced less joint pain. This decrease in joint stress is attributed to the buoyancy, hydrostatic pressure, and warmth of the water.
In addition to reducing the load on joints, aquatic exercise also increases muscle flexibility. The combination of the warm, lubricating medium and increased resistance of the water helps muscles to relax and perform more dynamic movements, which can improve overall range of motion and strengthen the entire body.
Many people suffer from arthritis or chronic conditions like osteoarthritis that make walking difficult, uncomfortable or even painful. Patients with such conditions or those who are at risk for falls often avoid exercises that involve strenuous upper or lower body strength or gait training because of the fear of injury and falling. With the HydroWorx 1200 Series pool, gait training, a physical therapist-prescribed range of motion (ROM) stretching, strength building and balance exercises can be performed in a low-impact way.
Boosts Cardiovascular Endurance
The natural buoyancy of the water allows for lengthier workout sessions, which can help to increase on-land hydro treadmill physical stamina. In fact, a former collegiate athlete who underwent two hip replacement surgeries says that if it weren’t for the hydro treadmill at her gym, she would not have been able to return to her previous level of fitness.
Additionally, the treadmill’s ability to provide a precise gait simulation allows for proper biomechanics to be maintained and can be transferred to normal land movement. This type of training can correct faulty postures and gait patterns that develop due to repetitive motion injuries or poor technique on land.
Professional athletes are gravitating toward treadmill pools to increase their cardiovascular and strength training while reducing the joint impact of land-based exercises. This is because water can reduce the impact by up to 80% while simultaneously providing resistance. The treadmill also encourages a more dynamic range of motion, which is important for improving performance and preventing injuries.
A hydro treadmill creates a natural walking pattern that allows for improved gait and balance in patients. It also helps to strengthen muscles and tendons. The buoyancy of the water decreases pressure on joints while allowing patients to move and exercise their legs without experiencing any pain. It is common for people to fall when moving on a traditional land-based treadmill, but walking in the water eliminates this fear and allows patients to work up to high speeds without the risk of injury.
In addition, the treadmill’s ability to increase resistance through turbulence and varying water temperatures can help with flexibility training. The adjustable speed settings allow therapists to set the desired pace of the walk or run. Slower speeds are used for neurologic conditions, while higher speed settings can be used to target specific muscle groups or as an introductory exercise for athletes.
Moreover, the water’s resistance can boost the cardiovascular endurance of runners. This is especially useful for injured runners who can’t perform weight-bearing exercises on a regular treadmill, as it helps them maintain their fitness level and return to running quicker than would be possible with traditional therapy.
The increased strength of the hips and knees from using the underwater treadmill increases a patient’s flexibility, which is an essential component to good health. This flexibility can be enhanced even further by adding in jet therapy, which tends to stiff muscles and provides a full body massage.
This type of rehabilitation equipment is becoming increasingly popular in the sporting world as professional trainers assign injured athletes to workouts on the treadmill to reduce the time it takes them to recover from their injuries and regain their fitness levels. It is also being used by aspiring athletes to build up their cardiovascular endurance.
Another advantage of using a hydro treadmill is that it lowers blood pressure. This is particularly helpful for 67 million Americans with hypertension, who are unable to engage in regular, land-based exercise due to pain and discomfort. Studies have shown that combining plyometric workouts with an underwater treadmill can help to lower blood pressure more effectively than land-based exercises.
Aids Gait Training
Underwater treadmills provide a low-impact environment that can mimic walking and running without placing excess stress on your joints. The resistance of the water creates an intense workout that helps to tone and strengthen your legs and core muscles, while boosting cardiovascular endurance.
Gait training is a key component in post-stroke rehabilitation, particularly for patients with impaired balance and coordination. Studies have shown that the underwater treadmill facilitates increased gait speed, step length and knee joint stability during the walking cycle. Furthermore, the increased limb movement in the aquatic environment allows for improved stance phase symmetry on the paretic side and increased weight shifting ability.
The hydrostatic pressure of the water reduces swelling, aids relaxation, and boosts strength and flexibility. Additionally, patients bear as little as 20% of their body weight in chest-deep water, making it easier for them to engage in gait training. The unweighted environment created by the water also allows for proper biomechanics to be replicated and improves a patient’s confidence, which can carry over to land movements.
The underwater treadmill’s therapist-controlled settings and variable speeds allow you to achieve a wide range of clinical outcomes. Therapists can quickly adjust the resistance and speed to meet a patient’s needs and progress them through an exercise regimen. The therapist-controlled system allows for adjustments in the amount of resistance and turbulence generated during the exercise, ensuring that your individualized treatment plan is achieved with each session.
Many older adults have difficulty engaging in regular walking and exercise due to pain and fear of hydro treadmill falling. Falling is a significant cause of injury for people over the age of 65 and can have devastating consequences. Research has shown that the constant use of an underwater treadmill increases strength and gait speed, improving balance and preventing falls.
Some individuals may be fearful of the underwater treadmill, but most are willing to participate in an exercise program if they are slowly introduced to it. A reward, like treats placed on the ramp and tread or a frozen cup smeared with peanut butter, can be used to encourage patients to walk on the treadmill and begin building their confidence.
Walking or running on an underwater treadmill is an effective way to get the aerobic and fitness benefits of exercising, while eliminating a lot of the stress and strain that comes with land-based exercise. Many elite athletes use a water treadmill as part of their workout routine to increase the amount of training they can do each week, without increasing the physical stresses on their joints and tendons.
Patients that are recovering from a recent injury, dealing with chronic pain or stiffness or experiencing weight loss benefit from hydro treadmill therapy as well. Even pets that have never been able to walk on a treadmill can be encouraged to start using the device with gradual, controlled exposure. Many pet owners find that their pets are surprisingly comfortable in the warm, buoyant water of a hydrotherapy pool or the more intense resistance and turbulence of an underwater treadmill.
Most dogs and cats can exercise on the underwater treadmill for an hour or more, depending on their condition and recovery progress. Some patients with fear of the equipment or the water may need to be encouraged with treats placed on the ramp and tread, a frozen cup smeared with peanut butter, or a special harness (e.g. Walkabout Harness, Walkabout Dog Harness or Help ‘Em Up) in order to maintain proper form and posture.
Many animals with joint, bone or muscle injuries experience pain that can be reduced with the use of a hydro treadmill. Muscle atrophy and loss of strength can also be reduced with regular walks on the water treadmill. In addition, the warm water of a hydrotherapy pool increases circulation, relieves swelling and edema and helps the body absorb shock.
If your pet is suffering from an injury, pain or discomfort, talk to the therapists at Greens Fork Animal Hospital about hydro treadmill therapy. We can help your pet recover faster from surgery, reduce the pain and stiffness associated with arthritis or other conditions and improve their overall quality of life. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with a veterinarian or physical therapist who is experienced in hydro treadmill therapy.