Underwater treadmills are becoming increasingly popular in injury rehabilitation. Focused athletes, regular marathoners, and those approaching old age are prone to injury more than others. Such individuals can take advantage of the therapeutic benefits of an underwater treadmill.
Common injuries like sprains and fractures can be treated by running in water. Running injuries, in particular, like iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS), Achilles tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, and generic knee pain can improve tremendously with this form of water therapy.
Benefits of Underwater Treadmills For Injury Rehabilitation
Underwater treadmills are designed for more than mere fitness. They help your body recover and strengthen using the properties of water like buoyancy and hydrostatic pressure.
Running on an underwater treadmill may not cure your injury, but it will definitely improve it. Here are some benefits you should be aware of:
1. You Exert Less Pressure On Your Injury
You don’t want to be agonizing your already injured muscles and bones. The water gently beating against your body has a massaging effect, one that is very welcome in areas of pain.
In waist-high water, your body weight is reduced by half; in chest-high water, it’s reduced by three-fourth. Water’s buoyancy is responsible for this. This is an advantage when you’re trying to reduce the strain on an injury.
This brings us to the next point.
2. Your Risks Of Further Injury Are Reduced
A very important aspect of injury rehabilitation is not worsening your injury. Running on an underwater treadmill is a great way to ensure that does not happen.
Yes, you can refrain from physical activity altogether to ensure no further injury takes place, but certain types of injuries call for physiotherapy. This holds particularly true for age-related muscle and bone problems. Athletes, too, may need to maintain their fitness levels even while recovering if they intend to get back in their game soon.
Another advantage is that you don’t need to worry about tripping over and hurting yourself while in water.
3. Your Pain Will Take A Back Seat
Injury and pain go hand in hand, but not when you’re in water. A major benefit of running in water is that it helps reduce stiffness and soreness to a great extent. And who wouldn’t want a natural painkiller?
Knee and hip injuries can feel less painful if you run in water at least a couple of times a week.
4. You Are Provided More Resistance For Strength Building
Injured muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones are weak and cannot perform as well as their healthy counterparts. To regain their strength they must be pushed to perform, of course, within reasonable limits.
Water helps do this by offering resistance to your movements by virtue of its hydrostatic pressure. You will feel like weights are attached to your body, the basic requirement for any form of strength training.
What’s more, water exercises can help increase your bone mass, a necessity for injuries caused due to weak bones. Your recovery will look promising if you resort to underwater treadmill running to heal yourself.
5. You Can Maintain Your Form With Reduced Effort
When you run in water, you don’t have to run as fast, as far, or as long as you would on land to achieve the same level of muscle activity. In water, you can run a shorter distance at a slower speed and for a shorter time as your muscles are forced to push harder than they would in air.
This is a big bonus for anyone trying to maintain their form while recovering from an injury, particularly professional athletes.
6. You Can Rectify Your Body Posture
For those who have spinal injuries, water exercises can benefit you tremendously. The surrounding buoyancy props you up into an upright position, elongating your spine to the entirety of its natural length without any discomfort.
7. You Can Calm Your Mind
An underwater treadmill can help not only with the physical aspect of recovery but the mental aspect as well.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed or anxious over an injury. It becomes tempting to speed up your recovery beyond advisable limits, and you may even start feeling depressed about it. This is why it’s so important to find ways to lower your stress levels.
Water is naturally relaxing. It’s color, temperature, and sound – all help calm our minds (which is why water is often used for meditation). Further, like all forms of exercise, running in water will trigger the release of feel-good hormones called endorphins. The enhanced blood circulation and oxygen flow will also bring your breathing down to relaxing levels.
It’s important to remember that helping your body heal is a process – a process that requires time and patience. Don’t set wrong expectations of your healing timeline. Give your body the time it needs, while gradually increasing the intensity at which you use an underwater treadmill.