At HydroWorx, we’re all about breaking through the myths that permeate the aquatic therapy industry. With our first Bubble Busters post, we blew away the idea that therapy pools are only useful for working patients’ lower extremities. Today, we’ll tackle three other common aquatics misconceptions with the help of Lance Walker, Global Director of Performance at Michael Johnson Performance in McKinney, Texas.
Myth #1: Aquatics is limited to rehab.
As Walker has noted, any professional who is limiting aquatics to only rehabilitation needs to “wake up and smell the bacon,” because this limitation is definitely considered “old school.”
Today, trainers, athletes, coaches and exercisers are all using therapy pools as modalities to cross-train without putting major stressors on the body. For instance, throughout the United States, most professional athletic teams and colleges with high-profile sports teams have at least one HydroWorx pool at their disposal, and Walker says with confidence that they definitely use those pools for more than rehab.
Yes, they use their therapy pools for rehab if a player is on the injured list, but they also use the pool as a secondary training modality. Even Olympians are regularly getting in the water to increase their strength and endurance without hurting their bodies.
Myth #2: You can’t match land-running intensity in water.
Sure, the HydroWorx is a revolutionary therapy pool with an underwater treadmill – but can it really mimic the land-based intensities for athletes? Absolutely!
Walker commonly works with his athletes in the pool, focusing on plyometrics, dynamic mobility, reactive footwork and much more. As a tool, the therapy pool provides the efficiency and effectiveness Walker’s clients need to improve their performance (and potentially make more money in the case of pro athletes).
So how does this work from an evidence-based perspective? The key is to make use of all the pool functions. By turning on the high-powered resistance jets and/or increasing the speed on the underwater treadmill, it’s possible to foster an environment where high intensity is the name of the game. However, there’s no pounding of the joints, which makes an intense conditioning pool workout perfect for adding training hours without risking injury. Recent research from Utah State University further validates this truth. The researches conducted the study, “Metabolic Cost Comparison of Running on an Aquatic Treadmill with Water Jets and Land Treadmill with Incline,” to compare the metabolic costs at specific inclines while running on a land based treadmill to running speeds on an aquatic treadmill with the resistance jets. And the study concluded that running on an underwater treadmill against the resistance jets results in a greater change in metabolic cost than running on a land based treadmill.
Myth #3: It’s impossible to replicate a land running or walking gait in the water.
Ah, the old “gait replication” misconception! We hear it a lot, and so does Walker. In fact, it’s one of his “hot button issues.”
Science has now proven, thanks to stop-motion videos, that it is absolutely possible to replicate land movements in the water. The key is to equip the therapy pool with an underwater treadmill, whereby it’s easy to examine an athlete’s movements via an underwater camera.
By studying the hip, knee and leg angles appropriate for healthy land-based running or walking, not to mention foot strike tendencies, athletic trainers, physical therapists and strength coaches can help their clients mimic those movements in the pool. Not only will the movements then translate to land, but the stressors on other parts of the body will be lowered. Plus, there’s no awkward transition of different movements between the land and the water; the athlete is improving and perfecting his or her natural gait whether in the pool or on the track.
There you have it! More food for thought, and more myth bubbles popped thanks to practical experience mixed with scientific evidence.
To learn more about these misconceptions from Lance Walker himself, you can watch the On Demand webinar for Free today!
“With the way the HydroWorx system works, there is not a lot you can’t do. Use your imagination!”
So says Dr. Mark Gillett, who is the Director of Performance at West Bromwich Albion and Head of Athletic Performance for British Basketball. Although Gillett focuses mainly on helping patients rehabilitate after injuries through aquatics, he also uses his facility’s HydroWorx pool to boost athletes’ conditioning when possible.
His philosophy is that there are very few limitations when it comes to making the most of his warm water therapy pool. This is why he puts his clientele in the pool in many situations:
- After an injury. Gillett doesn’t wait; he gets individuals who have been injured in the pool early. Thanks to the compressive ability of the water, and its intrinsic ability to offload the athletes’ joints, he’s able to improve function and speed up healing. Gillett remarks, “It can save you time… Even if you can get the athlete back one game sooner that can mean the difference to winning the championship or being very disappointed.”
- After a game. Athletes need a reliable – yet safe – recovery outlet, and the HydroWorx serves the purpose. As they run on the underwater treadmill in chest-high water, their bodies remain challenged in an environment that doesn’t stress their joints. This is great for athletes of all ages, but especially older athletes who have played a lot of games and require a low-impact recovery method.
- After surgery. Post-surgical water therapy can be tricky because of open wounds. Gillett takes precautions that include waterproof dressings. However, when he is certain that one of his clients can safely get in the pool, he doesn’t hesitate. “There is a really big benefit to getting people in the water as soon as possible after surgery,” he says.
- In between games and during intense trainings. Gillett had the opportunity to train the Olympic team in Houston at the Houston Rocket’s facility (which has a HydroWorx pool.) He utilized the pool as a way to give his Olympic British basketball players a means to revitalize their muscles without causing problems related to higher-impact training.
Gillett admits that he’s been a big fan of the water in general for a long time. As a swimmer at a relatively high level in his younger years, he knew firsthand that the water was a phenomenal venue and a valuable resource. One of the main reasons West Bromwich Albion is a HydroWorx customer was as result of his diligence in writing a business plan to ensure that his athletes would have state-of-the-art aquatic therapy.
Over time, he’s committed to finding new ways to use this equipment. We have little doubt that he’ll spearhead some fascinating rehab and conditioning techniques!
Are you interested in learning more about the impact that aquatic therapy can have on your athletes? Download our free tip sheet, “ACL Recovery with Water Therapy,” today!
The University of Maine’s exercise science department along with professors from the Rutgers Equine Science Center developed and published the research study, “The metabolic response to treadmill graded exercise: traditional vs. underwater.” The purpose of the study was to the determine the metabolic effects of four graded exercise tests performed on an underwater treadmill and then compare them to the results from performing the standard Bruce protocol (see the table below) on a traditional land treadmill.
Total Duration = 21 minutes
Twelve male Division 1 athletes from the University of Maine’s hockey team each performed the Bruce protocol and the four graded tests on the underwater treadmill. Additionally, the researchers collected data about their oxygen consumption, lactic acid buildup, heart rate and calories consumed during exercise with each method. Their goal was to identify if underwater treadmill running and walking can provide effective low-impact rehabilitation and cardiovascular conditioning.
For an athletic trainer, and even a coach, there is always a concern when rehabilitating an athlete with a joint injury. Will they return at the same level as they were before they got injured? How will you maintain their cardiovascular conditioning during their rehab? How do you return them quickly, but safely? Some of these concerns were the motivation behind this research study. At the end of the study, Professor Robert Lehnhard stated, “This piece of equipment [underwater treadmill] fits nicely when joint impact is a concern.”
Lehnhard believes the underwater treadmill, with resistance jets, could also benefit non-athletes since many people, particularly those just beginning an exercise program, are not conditioned for repeated impact on their joints.
As a result of their study they found that the underwater treadmill graded protocol was comparable to the Bruce protocol on many levels. Additionally, for rehabilitation purposes that include a fitness maintenance component with low-impact, underwater treadmill therapy and exercises would be the better option.
Some of the benefits of underwater treadmill exercise include:
- Promotes early range of motion
- Initiates gait training in a low impact environment
- Improves cardiovascular stamina
- Increases flexibility
- Impacts muscle strengthening
Download our Research Studies Book for a comprehensive overview of studies that have been done on underwater treadmills.
During the National Athletic Trainers’ Association’s 66th Clinical Symposia & AT Expo in St. Louis, MO, we were proud to unveil our new product for the very first time- the HydroWorx 300. This new product features an ultra-high-tech underwater treadmill enclosed in a transparent tempered-glass case which fills with water in less than three minutes. The new 300 makes aquatic therapy and its restorative values available to virtually any sports medicine program, retirement community, fitness center or physical therapy clinic in the world.
“We developed the HydroWorx 300 to help bring aquatic therapy to more individuals in need,” stated Anson Flake, HydroWorx CEO and Co-Founder. “For facilities with limited space or budget, the construction-free 300 will be a new tool for clinicians that looks just as great as it works.”
The HydroWorx 300 features the same underwater treadmill and resistance jet technology that each of our treadmill pools have. The underwater treadmill accelerates to speeds of up to 10 miles per hour. And its functional design allows it to fit through a standard 36” door.
“We believe this product has the potential to transform the market in several segments, including sports medicine, military, senior living, healthcare and fitness,” continued Flake. “Offering a device that’s easy on the budget and delivers the unweighting of joints through aquatic therapy to nearly everyone—chronic pain sufferers, post-op patients and our geriatric clients—is groundbreaking.”
Attendees of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association’s 66th Clinical Symposia & AT Expo were encouraged to stop by to see this new technology in person for the first time. Numerous athletic trainers were able to witness this new product and a few even got in to try it out for themselves. Nichole DelHierro of Professional PT was one of the attendees to get in and try the new unit and she said she could see herself using it with all her athletes.
Furthermore, research specialist and PhD, Dr. Dennis Dolny was present for the launch and shared his thoughts on the new device.
“The HydroWorx 300 really brings all the perfect features of an aquatic environment for rehabilitation, exercise training and sports performance into one unit. The design is classic and sleek! And it is a wonderful substitute for those stresses that most people experience with traditional land treadmill walking and running or other methods of trying to support bodyweight while performing exercises on land. It really is unparalleled, providing a safe and effective rehabilitation experience as well as high performance experience for your elite athletes.”
Special options for the new product include an underwater camera for real-time gait evaluation, pediatric handrails and ramp platform for wheelchair access.
We are very excited to add this new product to our existing family of products. To learn more about the new HydroWorx 300 please visit: ww2.hydroworx.com/300 and watch the video below:
A recent review published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine sought to identify what the cardiometabolic differences were between aquatic high intensity interval training (HIIT) and land-based HIIT and to determine if aquatic HIIT is a safe and effective modality. HIIT is characterized by short bursts of exercise performed at a high intensity. This type of exercise is performed as work-rest intervals with exercise intensities approximately 85% to 95% of maximal heart rate (HR) or >90% maximal oxygen consumption (VO 2max ) followed by periods of rest or moderate-intensity active recovery.
The review included a combination of seven different studies involving aquatic HIIT training via deep water running, underwater treadmill running or swimming. These studies were analyzed and showed the benefits of aquatic HIIT training on different populations. Additionally, the review offered some program designs for achieving aquatic HIIT.
Based on this combination of data from multiple research studies, it was concluded that HIIT in general can provide similar benefits to continuous training (such as running, jogging or walking) but can also provide the advantage of being challenging, effective and time saving. Additionally, it was found that aquatic HIIT training conveys similar benefits to land-based HIIT but with less stress on joints.
To read more aquatic-based research, download a full research book here>>