Hydrotherapy is a low impact tool that yields high impact results with limited joint stress and muscle fatigue. It’s a safe environment where athletes achieve an intense workout without risking injury. From upper body exercises, running, conditioning, and sports specific drills, there is no limit to what can be accomplished with pool exercises.
Athletes can recover faster with aquatic therapy following an injury. During rehabilitation, treatment plans can be implemented before land therapy protocols for earlier injury intervention. Aquatic therapy also keeps athletes conditioned as they recover so they are ready to play as soon as they are back in the game.
This ultimate training and recovery tool is a win win for the athlete and the team. The answer to why it works lies in three basic principles of water: Hydrostatic Pressure, Buoyancy, Viscosity.
Here’s a simple explanation of what they are and why they are so important to aquatic therapy success.
Hydrostatic pressure is the weight of a fluid – in this case water – against an object. When an athlete gets in the water, hydrostatic pressure creates a uniform support system for all immersed body parts.
A. Water completely surrounds a submerged body part from all sides for a complete support system.
B. The deeper you go, the greater the support you get from the surrounding water. This effect creates a secure environment to prevent injury from falling, imbalances or over-stress.
Buoyancy is the ability to float in water. The deeper you go, the less weight you have to bear. Based on buoyancy principles, an athlete immersed in water up to their neck bears 10% of their body weight. If the water is at chest level, they bear 25% of their weight, and if the water is at hip level, they bear 50% of their weight.
Water’s zero-impact environment is ideal for getting in shape or recovering from an injury. The weightlessness means an athlete can get an intense workout with less joint stress and pressure. Stretching out tight muscles is much easier because water’s buoyancy helps improve range of motion.
In addition, athletes can rehabilitate without further straining injuries. Taking weight off any injury allows for therapy protocols too begin much sooner than traditional land-based treatments. This means they can rehabilitate faster, stay in shape during recovery and are ready to play as soon as they heal.
Viscosity is a fluid’s resistance against an object. In this case, water. The resistance or drag of water, combined with hydrostatic pressure and buoyancy, creates the ideal environment for training and therapy.
Exercises in water provide up to 15 times more resistance that the same exercises on land. When a water current is added with varied speeds (available in most aquatic therapy pools), this can ramp up the intensity of workouts or create treatment protocols to help athletes successfully progress different stages of recovery.
Aquatic fitness and therapy is the ultimate environment that gives athletes the confidence and support to perform proper mechanics with less pain, faster results, and better outcomes.
Interested in learning about even more benefits? Learn how hydrostatic pressure can work as a compression device, increase breathing capacity, and more.
How do the Chicago Cubs use hydrotherapy in their training? Download their training guide here.