Running underwater outperforms land running in many ways, simply because it provides many of the same results as land running, but with even more benefit. The natural properties of water offer benefits unmatched on land.
- Reduced risk of injury. The buoyancy of the water can decrease an individual’s body weight by up to 90%. Removing this amount of pressure from joints and muscles means that there is less wear and tear on the body. This allows for increased mileage for runners and athletes without compromising the body, resulting in reduced overuse injuries.
- Increased muscle strength. Although running underwater is sometimes considered “easier” because your body is lighter, the viscosity of the water makes the work on your muscles “harder.” Since your body needs to push through the natural resistance of the water (or additional resistance through pool jets), it strengthens leg and foot muscles. It also requires more core strength to maintain proper positioning in the volatile water.
- Improved circulation, decreased swelling and less pain. The hydrostatic pressure of the water supercharges the venous return process. This helps to quickly move excess waste and lactic acid from the muscles, which decreases swelling symptoms and muscle soreness.
- Improved mental outlook. For those that have difficulty running on land or have hit a plateau in their training, underwater running can provide the extra motivation to keep going. Often, individuals are capable of doing more underwater than they can on land, whether it be exercising longer, harder or faster. Seeing the results in the water can motivate individuals to continue pushing themselves on land in order to accomplish what they are able to in the water.
- Decreased perception of effort. Due to the combination of all of the properties of water, many individuals feel as though they are not working a hard as on land. Although their efforts may actually be producing greater results, the perception of effort is low, thanks to the added relaxation, reduced muscle soreness and weightlessness.
Supplementing a land routine with underwater treadmill running can improve your results and provide additional benefits such as those mentioned above. Many professional and collegiate athletes rely on aqua running as a portion of their training to improve their performance.
Learn how everyone can benefit from the use of underwater treadmill running from the “6 Benefits of Underwater Running” Infographic.
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For more on underwater running from Alberto Salazar and Dr. Dennis Dolny, download the free book “Underwater Treadmill Running”>>
The connection between cognition and gait in patients recovering from illnesses, injuries and surgeries through aquatic therapy exercise has been a little-researched topic. Two doctors from Utah State University in Logan. UT have made great strides in understanding those connections.
Join us April 22, 2015 from 1:00pm to 2:00pm EDT for the free webinar, “Influence of an Aquatic Environment on Cognition and Gait.” Dr. Eadric Bressel, Professor and Clinical Research Scientist in the Sports Medicine Program and Dr. Dennis Dolny, Department Head of Health, Physical Education & Recreation in the College of Education & Human Services at Utah State University will be discussing some of their latest research discoveries.
Research is exploring two big questions about aquatic environments: (1) How does walking in shallow water compare to walking on an underwater treadmill or on land? (2) Does the aquatic environment influence cognition? To answer these questions, leading researchers have begun to explore the direct and indirect effects of aquatic therapy in regards to cognition and gait. These questions will also help to answer why aquatic programming may have additional value for your participants, beyond what was previously understood.
- The biomechanical differences between locomotion on land, in shallow water and on an underwater treadmill.
- How water immersion influences cognitive function using a dual-task paradigm.
Who will benefit from this webinar:
- Physical and occupational therapists and assistants
- Wellness directors and coordinators
- Aquatics and fitness directors
- Professors and researchers
The following post is summarized from the recent article, “Aquatic Rehab for Athletes,” written by Ryan Bitzel, PT and published in the March edition of Advance for Physical Therapy and Rehab Medicine.
Ryan Bitzel, PT and current Rehab Coordinator for the San Diego Padres, dives deep into his love and appreciation of water. “I’ve seen water do wonders for athletes trying to rebound from an acute injury and for athletes needing to condition in a low-impact, nearly pain-free environment.”
Bitzel began his professional career working in a clinical setting that offered aquatic therapy. Because of that early introduction to the power of water, Bitzel became an advocate for warm water therapy early on. He saw the impact those tools had on his patient population firsthand and even saw patient’s rehab time frame decrease when they used water.
Five years ago Bitzel joined the medical staff for the San Diego Padres as the rehab coordinator. At the time he started working with the Padres they were in the process of renovating their spring training facility in Peoria, AZ. This facility features, among many unique rehabilitation tools, a HydroWorx pool with an underwater treadmill, resistance jets, video monitoring system and much more.
Having this piece of technology at their fingertips has provided numerous benefits for a multitude of conditions and uses. Bitzel uses hydrotherapy for injury rehabilitation, recovery and conditioning.
- Achilles Injuries: When the Achilles tendon ruptures, aquatic therapy can help promote healing whether or not surgery is needed.
- ACL injuries: Using the pool for ACL rehab has decreased the standard time frame due to water’s natural gift of buoyancy. In the water, the athlete’s body weight is reduced by as much as 90%, depending on water depth. Bitzel shares that he has athletes who have undergone ACL reconstruction and the use the pool for plyometrics. The athletes are able to work on form and absorption techniques much sooner in the water than on land which helps the athlete not only physically but emotionally too.
- Shoulder injuries: Bitzel uses the pool for numerous shoulder injuries because water provides natural resistance which produces muscle strengthening. They use water dumbbells and jet resistance to strengthen the shoulders. Making figure-eights or external rotation helps promote range of motion and strengthening as well.
- Hamstring injuries: Hamstring and groin injuries are very common among athletes and can linger for long periods of time. Bitzel has found water to be effective in treating the hamstring strain due to the resistance and buoyancy it provides. Athletes can perform single-leg balance exercises and striding drills in the water as part of their rehab because it is virtually pain free in that environment.
- Conditioning: Bitzel also uses their pool for training and conditioning. Underwater running enables athletes to engage the same muscles as land-based running, but without the stress. For injured athletes, keeping up with their cardiovascular fitness levels can prove to be a challenge. But they can feel confident that workouts on an underwater treadmill with resistance jets will help them maintain — and possibly increase — their cardiovascular fitness levels.
The most rewarding aspect of my job is seeing players return to the field. One question every injured athlete asks is, “How long will my rehab time be?” Of course, my answer varies based on many factors. But seeing guys put in their best effort while benefiting from the most advanced technology available definitely makes my job as a physical therapist fulfilling.
Upcoming Free Webinar: Addressing Potential Misconceptions about Training with Aquatics
May 13, 2015 from 1:00pm to 2:00pm EDT
Presented By: Lance Walker, Global Director of Performance for Michael Johnson Performance
The benefits of aquatic therapy are becoming increasingly widely accepted. However, there are still some commonly held beliefs about the limitations of the use of aquatics, especially for athletic training and sports performance. In this webinar, Lance Walker, Global Director of Performance at Michael Johnson Performance, will review some of these potential misconceptions, and to what extent his considerable experience with using aquatics as part of his training program has supported or contradicted them. Learn more and register today>>
This 22 year old professional wakeboarder underwent a patellar tendon revision. He previously had a patellar tendon repair and an ACL repair on the same knee. Following the patellar tendon revision, he began his rehab at 10 weeks post op in the HydroWorx pool at Michael Johnson Performance.
During the early stages of his pool rehab, his physical therapist, Laura Saleem, was focused specifically on improving his range of motion, gait, quadricep contraction and patella tracking. Much of this was done through use of the underwater treadmill and video cameras. These features were beneficial specifically while he was working on normalizing his gait. He was able to watch his technique on the video cameras and immediately focus on correcting any deviations. Saleem was watching for heel strike and extension while he was walking forward and backward on the underwater treadmill.
Saleem didn’t simply focus on correcting his problem, she also focused on all other aspects of his strength while in the water. She did this through intense core and upper body work using resistance jets and tools. By maintaining all aspects of his fitness while also correcting any abnormalities in his gait, Saleem was able to transfer these skills to his land therapy when he was cleared to be full weight-bearing.
To learn more about this case and to see the protocols used in the pool, watch the videos below:
Don’t miss our upcoming webinar from Lance Walker, Global Director of Performance at Michael Johnson Performance, “Addressing Potential Misconceptions about Training with Aquatics.” Register today>>
On March 19, 2015, we hosted a webinar titled, “Strategies for Treating Low Back Injuries with Aquatic Therapy.” In this webinar, Murphy Grant, MS, LAT, PES Assistant Athletic Director – Sports Medicine and Head Football Athletic Trainer at University of Kansas in Lawrence, KS discussed common injuries to the back and how to use water to treat low back injuries.
“Back pain is one of the great human afflictions.” Low back pain can affect nearly 85% of all adults, is one of the most common causes of referral to physical therapy, and one of the leading causes of disability. Because it is a complex region, Murphy spent some time, during the webinar, reviewing the anatomy of the lumbar spine, including common injuries. He also discussed why aquatic therapy is a beneficial modality.
Murphy spent a good amount of time reviewing protocols that can be used in the pool, to treat low back pain. He discussed different protocols specifically for those with lumbar sprains and muscular strains, fractures and dislocations, contusions, and herniated discs and discogenic disease, including things such as:
- Working continued mobility through the hip to maintain range of motion
- Core stability to simplify movement
- Add movement exercises to focus on strengthening
- Increase lumbar and thoracic spine mobility and stabilization
Murphy walks through many protocols using video to focus on each of these areas, while identifying key movements on which to focus to make each exercise effective. Murphy has seen a lot of success with aquatic therapy for all types of low back pain. The key to using the pool is to use it as a part of rehabilitation to prepare athletes or patients to get back to their regular activity.
He also gave in depth answers to various questions questions at the end of the webinar, that you won’t want to miss. Watch the webinar on-demand to learn strategies and protocols for treating low back pain>>
Kansas University has become a major public research and teaching institution of 28,000 students and 2,600 faculty on five campuses (Lawrence, Kansas City, Overland Park, Wichita, and Salina). Its diverse elements are united by their mission to educate leaders, build healthy communities, and make discoveries that change the world.
Kansas Athletics has brought together an expansive health care team to assist its student athletes with all areas of health care from acute care of orthopedic injuries and illness, rehabilitation, injury prevention, and nutrition to psychological services. The Sports Medicine team is composed of certified athletic trainers, physicians, a nutritionist, psychologist and physical therapist along with an accredited student athletic training education program. Kansas Athletics has one of the largest sports medicine staff in the Big XII with 14 certified athletic trainers, 50+ student athletic trainers with 3 full time athletic training instructors, a sport psychologist and nutritionist, over dozen physicians ranging from orthopedic surgeons, dermatologists, and general practitioners to optometrists, dentists and other medical specialists.