Underwater Treadmill

athletesHydroWorx’s patented underwater treadmill is revolutionizing physical therapy, sports medicine and conditioning. This proprietary feature comes standard in all of our therapy pools. The powered underwater treadmills are integrated into the pool floor and feature a polished stainless steel frame that is professionally welded for durability and safety. Our endless rubberized treadmill belts offer excellent traction and may be utilized with bare feet or shoes.

These aquatic treadmills smoothly accelerate from .1 up to 8.5 miles per hour and allow the user to correctly simulate land-based walking, running or sports-specific activities but without the bodyweight and joint impact an individual experiences on land. Exercises such as walking, retro-walking, sprinting, shuffling, back-pedaling and plyometric activities are easily performed on the large, cushioned treadmill surface. Walking, running and exercising underwater has never been easier.

Benefits of Underwater Treadmill Training

Promotes early range of motion

Older adults with joint and muscle pain may find relief with underwater treadmill therapy. Even though people with chronic conditions like osteoarthritis will often avoid activities such as walking and exercise, these activities can actually make some of the pain disappear.

For those with chronic pain conditions, the natural hydrostatic pressure of water helps with the healing process. Patients can bear as little as 20% of their body weight while chest-deep in the water. Not only does the water reduce swelling and aid relaxation, but it also relaxes joints, improves strength and boosts flexibility.


Initiates gait training in a low impact environment

With underwater treadmill therapy, patients can undergo gait training without fear of falling. This helps aging patients feel more successful — and they are less likely to cancel underwater treadmill physical therapy sessions. Statistically, a third of adults over age 65 suffers a fall each year and is often a result of lack of balance and a weakening of the body. Clinicians must have tools in place that can help patients regain balance and underwater treadmills are the perfect device for low-impact gait training.


Replicates the proper biomechanics of land-based movements to improve gait patterns

The underwater treadmill allows a more natural gait pattern to occur in the water as opposed to in a static pool. Those proper biomechanics that are created in the unweighted environment carry over to land movements.


Improved cardiovascular stamina

With underwater treadmill physical therapy, lengthier exercise durations are combined with the heightened resistance of the water. This generates greater cardiovascular endurance, which in turn boosts a patient’s on-ground physical stamina. Noted athlete Deb Sunderman used the HydroWorx 500 as a cardiovascular fitness tool after back-to-back hip surgeries left her unable to perform on land. Soon enough, the underwater treadmill workouts rebuilt her strength and removed the joint-strain from her hips.


Increased flexibility

Stimulated by the sensory effects of warm water, patients enjoy more joint and muscle relaxation while using an aquatic treadmill. While underwater, a person’s weight is reduced by 80 percent, removing joint stress. With the massage hose in a HydroWorx pool, patients have an even greater relaxant and remedy for sore joints. When combined with the various movements and cardiovascular activities that patients experience in a treadmill pool, the relaxing effects of underwater therapy lead to increased flexibility.


Impacts muscle strengthening

Of all the underwater treadmill benefits, one of the most overlooked is the muscle-strengthening factor. A recent study conducted by Texas A&M University (TAMU) found that combinations of strength training and aquatic treadmill workouts are more effective at building body mass than strength training performed either alone or in combination with land treadmill workouts.

When a person runs on an underwater treadmill, his or her body undergoes greater exertion due to the viscosity of the water. This leads to greater hip, leg and foot strength, as well as improvements in core muscle groups throughout the body.


Increased healing and strengthening of injured tissue

The combination of relaxing water and exercise on an aquatic treadmill can aid the healing process of injured tissue. At Lakeview Village in Lenexa, Kansas, the HydroWorx 1200 Series pool is used for gait training, which builds up patients’ physical mobility, improves strength and has the potential to reduce other conditions such as osteoporosis.

With the attachable massage hose, physical therapists can combine this training with jet therapy on the stiff muscles of patients. As a result, patients have experienced improvements in mobility and decreases in pain, which has led to increased awareness of underwater treadmill benefits.


Increases ability to perform a wide range of plyometrics

Hydrotherapy has also become popular among athletic trainers, who now assign injured athletes to pylometric routines in underwater treadmill pools. According to Terry DeZeeuw, an athletic trainer at Colorado State University, the biggest improvement at CSU’s training facility involves its recent addition of a hydrotherapy room with a HydroWorx 2000 Series pool. According to DeZeeuw, the pool is used for weight-bearing exercises among recovering athletes.


Reduces blood pressure levels

While everyone knows that exercise helps reduce hypertension, a recent TAMU study found that aquatic treadmill training is more effective than land-based exercise at lowering blood pressure (BP). Tracking 60 adults and comparing on-ground and underwater treadmill workouts, the study found that underwater workouts led to greater reductions in diastolic BP, exercise systolic BP and resting diastolic BP.

When combined with the soothing qualities of water, aquatic treadmills are the ideal option for the 67 million Americans with high blood pressure — many of whom avoid land-based exercise due to pain.


Reduces joint stiffness

In a recent Utah State University study, it was found that patients with osteoarthritis (OA) enjoy greater mobility and reduced joint pain with underwater treadmill therapy. Now that Baby Boomers are approaching their seventies, the number of American OA sufferers — which rose from 21 million to 26.9 million between 1990 and 2005 — will inevitably rise with each passing year. With its parallel bars, resistance jets and massage hose, the HydroWorx pool is an essential physical therapy tool for people living with OA.

Underwater Treadmill Uses
For athletes who need to stay in shape during an injury, or for patients trying to improve their strength, underwater treadmills give physical therapists and athletic trainers an effective tool for driving results. Here are some of the top underwater treadmill uses:

Staying in shape for a sport without full weight-bearing

In order for athletes to keep up their workout frequencies with reduced levels of stress, training facilities should consider installing underwater treadmills. Lance Walker, Global Director of Performance at Michael Johnson Performance, who utilizes the pool installed at Michael Johnson Performance in the McKinney, Texas-based training facility, praises HydroWorx for making his tissue more responsive — and for adding volume to his workouts that wouldn’t be achievable on land. Some of the athletes that use his facility wish to run 70 miles per week, and the HydroWorx system lets them maintain that mileage while reducing the joint stress that would otherwise accumulate with high-intensity regimens.


Improving gait after an injury

Anyone who has suffered a hip or leg injury is no doubt anxious to recover and resume with life as normal. However, rehabilitation and gait training can be lengthy and often discouraging processes. While recovery can take longer than expected, it’s a crucial river to cross. Patients working to regain their walking ability can get there with sessions of underwater treadmill therapy, which offer unique benefits for those who have undergone joint surgery. Oftentimes they can begin walking in the water sooner than on land thanks to the reduced weight-bearing water’s buoyancy offers.

With aquatics, the warm water decreases inflammation and alleviates four-fifths of a patient’s body weight. The side effects that often come with on-land rehabilitation are significantly reduced in underwater pools, thanks to increased balance, circulation, flexibility, and mobility. Since the possibility of falling is drastically reduced, patients are also more likely to stay committed to their program and remain positive about their recovery.

Water also helps patients gain strength through resistance and correct faulty postures that may have developed post-injury through the overuse of working joints. Dr. Paul Hetrick of the Hetrick Center is a proponent of aquatics, having used it himself to recover from a spinal injury. The doctor has HydroWorx 2000 and 500 Series pools at his Middletown, PA clinic.


Increasing leg muscle strength

Underwater treadmill exercise is a proven method for leg-toning. When set against the pressure of water, the act of walking on the treadmill helps with strength-building along the lower extremities.

According to a recent TAMU study, athletes that alternate underwater treadmill workouts with on-land strength training see greater improvements in lean body mass compared to individuals who only do non-aquatics. For older adults, leg exercises reduce the risk of falling. After a lower body surgery, a period will follow where the patient must refrain from weight-bearing activity. But oftentimes, thanks to the buoyant factors of water, a patient or athlete can use an aquatic treadmill as a recovery aid within days of a surgery.


Preventing injury

Since all of the body’s leg movements are connected to the hips, an injury in that area can lead to further injuries around the body. Therefore, hip-strengthening programs are needed to combat the annual rate of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears.

Aquatics have been recognized as one of the most effective preventions of ACL injuries due to both the soothing factors to reduce swelling and the low-stress, strength-building benefits of exercise in an underwater environment. For people who have just suffered a tear, aquatics can be used to intervene against further injuries and side effects — such as the loss of balance, mobility, and muscle strength.

Using an underwater treadmill in combination with underwater cameras can be used to improve posture, gait and sports-specific movements to prevent injury with improved form.

TAMU research into ACL prevention and treatment has also found that patients not only enhance their strength and mobility with underwater treadmill exercise, but they also take a more positive approach to the exercises due to the comforts of water.

Cross Training and Underwater Treadmills

Professional athletes in the world of sports are gravitating towards treadmill pools for the purposes of cardiovascular and strength training. For runners, the underwater treadmill mimics the setting of a land-based environment, but reduces the stress of body weight on joints and provides resistance.

Alberto Salazar, coach of the Oregon Project values underwater running as a way to increase his athletes’ mileage without risking injury.

Weight Loss Benefits

In 2009, TAMU conducted a study where 57 overweight adults were assigned three weekly training sessions in a HydroWorx pool. Over the course of the 12-week study, the subjects were asked to make no alterations to their diets or daily activities. In comparison to similar land-based studies, the subjects here showed significant improvements in hip-to-waist ratio and body mass index.

Furthermore, the subjects experienced notable reductions in stress-related body pain as a result of underwater treadmill physical therapy. The study demonstrated that regardless of diet, aquatics yield significant gains in aerobic capacity and reduce weight and body fat. Thanks to the buoyancy and comfort offered by warm water surroundings, treadmill pool exercises are also more enjoyable and inspiring for adults with weight problems.

How Can Older Adults Benefit

olderPoolFor older adults, the benefits of aquatics are innumerable. During a 12-week study of 38 OA patients in their mid-sixties, it was found that muscle strength and flexion improved by 18 percent in the knees and by 12 percent in the hips with underwater treadmill therapy. Abduction and adduction rose by 25 and 13 percent, respectively.

In another study comprised of 71 OA-afflicted sexagenarians over a six-week period, 72 percent experienced reduced pain and 75 percent enjoyed reduced joint stiffness due to aquatics. After these studies, the confidence gained from warm-water exercises led to improved on-land activity among the subjects.

Top Underwater Treadmill Exercises

athletes2Underwater treadmill workouts can be used to target joints and muscles in the lower and upper extremities. Starting with the hips, a person can do reps underwater that build this crucial part of the body, which will make the legs tighter and more mobile.

From there, an athlete or patient can focus on the knee joints and calf muscles with various walking routines. With the upper half of the body, they can employ motions against the water’s pressure for the purpose of strength building and tightening of the arms. HydroWorx pools have dozens of other possibilities that are explained in our free information kit.

HydroWorx underwater treadmill pools are becoming a popular attraction at elite sports medicine facilities, physical therapy clinics, and senior-living communities. But a pool can generate even greater buzz among locals when it’s worked into a facility’s wellness program. Kim Eichinger, Executive Director of Fitness at Country Meadows Retirement Communities, has outlined a series of exercises that work underwater.

During the warm-up phase, she starts with heel-toe raises, follows that with side-to-side rocking — intended to work the often-ignored sides of feet — and then moves to trunk rotations and posture press ups. The second phase consists of underwater walking workouts, though she stresses that this isn’t intended to be the same as walking on land. The intent here is to improve a patient’s gait, posture and speed. She does this by leading residents through a series of arm and cross-shoulder swings where the upper limbs are extended against the force of the water.

The final phase of her workout regimen focuses on balance, strength and range of motion, which she helps residents achieve through sets of hip stretches and abductions. She credits the HydroWorx handrails for making various underwater positions possible, and notes the importance of the resistance jet in the impact of these workouts.

In the above video, you can see HydroWorx underwater treadmill pools in use for various exercises by people of all ages. Some individuals use the HydroWorx for underwater running, and other cardio exercises, while a group of athletes might use the pool as a setting for ball practice. The video also shows how the HydroWorx massage hose can be used to help older adults sooth aching back muscles.

Get Greater Comfort and Superior Results With HydroWorx Underwater Treadmills

First developed in the 1970s as a treatment for racehorses, aquatic treadmills were ultimately refined for athletic and clinical human use by the mid-1980s. Founded in 1997, HydroWorx has been selling underwater treadmill pools to sports medicine facilities, physical therapy clinics, and retirement communities around the world since 1998.

HydroWorx 2000 and 1200 Series models are the only pools in the aquatic fitness market with depth-adjustable treadmill floors. As such, these underwater treadmills offer incredible convenience for children, older adults and users with physical disabilities. Each pool is equipped with resistance therapy jets and a massage hose, which can be connected to the jets for deep-tissue massage.

All HydroWorx products are designed by clinicians for the purposes of rehabilitation and conditioning. We have compiled more research than any other aquatic manufacturer and our library contains more than 100 clinical case studies. In addition to our therapy and fitness pools, we offer 24/7 customer service, ROI consulting, research and education opportunities and marketing help. We service all of our products with HydroWorx-trained technicians.

When using a HydroWorx pool, your clients will get the same cardiovascular benefits as running on land, as well as greater comfort and superior results.

To learn more about HydroWorx underwater treadmill pools, contact us today for a free informational DVD and a free demo opportunity.

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