As I write this, summer time is in full swing. We are blessed to live in Southern California with beautiful beaches and great weather for getting in the pool. We are also getting ready to add some water inside our physical therapy clinic in Huntington Beach. This piece of equipment is one I’ve been watching for years now. We are installing the Hydroworx EVO Under Water Treadmill. Our clinic in Huntington Beach will be the only clinic in California with this newest model of the Hydroworx Underwater Treadmill.
What is an underwater treadmill?
It is exactly what it sounds like! This amazing unit allows us to bring the benefits of aquatic therapy and recovery into the clinic space. It is just a little larger than an average treadmill. In order to use it, you step into the unit, close the door, and watch the chamber fill with water to the desired level. Once that is done, we turn on a treadmill and begin walking, running, jumping or whatever we want to do in that space.
How will this help my physical therapy recovery?
Well, besides the fact that it is just fun to do, it has some amazing benefits for quicker recovery. There are several benefits to exercising in water, and here are the top three that I especially love as a sports physical therapist.
- De-weighted training: The buoyancy of the water allows us to take take away the compression forces that go through joints during functional exercise. This is great for people in the early stages of their healing (We call this the Calming Stage). If your high school soccer player sprained their ankle, what is something you can do to get them back on the field quicker and safer? Get them doing some functional exercises in a de-weighted environment! The underwater treadmill is a great space to make that happen.
- Swelling Reduction: Did you know the best thing you can do to help with swelling in the ankle, knee or leg is to get in the water and do some movement? If we take the example of that soccer player with the sprained ankle, the best modality during the calming phase will be the underwater treadmill. The combination of getting some pain free movement, and the hydrostatic pressure the water provides, will help pump that swelling out of the ankle. Can you think of how your ears feel when you are in a swimming pool and go under water? The pressure you feel is the hydrostatic pressure of the water. This same pressure will be pressing around your ankle as you exercise on the treadmill, and serve to get that swelling out of there.
- Soothing Range of Motion: The underwater treadmill allows us to move the joints through a pain free range of motion which will help ease pain and discomfort. When a joint is in pain, your body tries to guard it by causing muscle spasms and other contractions to prevent the painful movement. However, if you place your joints in an environment where there can be pain free range of motion, this causes your body to relax and allow the promotion of healing to occur. The sprained ankle from the soccer player we discussed above, will be able to move through a pain free range of motion in the water. This helps the body’s nervous system to get out of the hypersensitive pain phase and begin to help move the body along through the calming phase of recovery.
Got an injury that could use the underwater treadmill?
As you can tell, I’m a little excited about this new piece of equipment. It will open up some great new ways to help people get out of pain and back to life. If you or someone you know is struggling with an injury or a recent surgery, getting in the underwater treadmill might be the best news you can give them. We have several easy ways to get you access to the underwater treadmill– whether through traditional insurance payments, or an a la carte, pay per session option.