Why Baseball Athletic Trainers Love Hydrotherapy
The fresh nip in the air tells us that baseball’s post season is coming to a close, along with the excitement and thrill that accompanies October’s best sports setting. The 2017 playoffs came with the traditional excitement and thrill. Now we watch as LA battles Houston on October’s biggest stage. We acknowledge our many clients for their hard-fought season and congratulate the Dodgers and Astros.
Through the years, we’ve discussed at length with these fierce competitors why their franchises invested in HydroWorx systems and how they use their pools to develop their teams. Below is a shortlist of their favorite uses of the HydroWorx pool:
- Shin splints. Caused by repeated trauma to the connective muscles surrounding the tibia, shin splints, or medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS), don’t need to stop a player’s workout when aqua therapy is an option. Instead, athletic trainers get them off the field and onto the underwater treadmill for running and other drills.
- Ankle sprains. The water becomes a bridge from rehab to land work. Players get in the water first, running there before getting back on the field. Almost immediately, proprioception training begins in the water. The hydrostatic pressure helps to control the position of the injured or deficient ankle. The natural properties of water inherently reduce swelling and inflammation.
- ACL tears. Standard protocol says after ACL surgery, players will start to run at around the four month mark. With an underwater treadmill, players often start walking much sooner. The body can be up to 90% unweighted and, with the camera system, player’s gait is monitored and corrected in real time. By three months the players are ready to smoothly transition to running on land. Plyometrics are also incorporated in the underwater setting first to increase power and give the athletes a chance to exert at maximum force in a safe environment.
- Shoulder programming. With upper-extremity injuries, water provides a great change-of-pace day or recovery day. First, the water’s property of buoyancy acts as an active-assisted elevator. Later in the program, water acts as a resistant. Turning on the jets gives athletes resistance, yet the amount of water flow is controlled. Players progressively get stronger. This jet stream gives them something to push through while supported and protected by the warm water.
- Older players. Anything that reduces the impact on the lower bodies, backs, knees and ankles of older athletes is tremendously helpful. In the pool, they get the cardio training they need without wear and tear on the joints. Marrying various running drills with water through tethering, weights, etc. give the older fellas the stress-free workout they need.
- Microfracture surgery. One player who had undergone microfracture surgery on his knee was able to get into the pool very early after surgery. Because of the buoyancy, he was able to work through gait training at the start and get back to the field quicker. Without the pool and underwater treadmill, his rehab would have been much longer and much more painful.
- Achilles Tendon repair. Seeing players recover after such an intense injury is very rewarding. They start rehabbing an Achilles tear by slowly walking on the underwater treadmill, focusing on push-off and knee-bend. Doing a “side shuffle” on the underwater treadmill at slow speed comes next. After several weeks, jogging on the treadmill is a possibility.
- General rehab. Rehab can get mundane with the same types of exercises and repetition. Anything to still challenge players and use new “scenery” is useful. It’s another tool in the “rehab tool belt” to use when appropriate, especially for guys who are non or partial weight bearing and restricted for extended periods of time. Overall, an earlier return to function is achieved with water.
Soon we’ll know who comes out on top of this year’s Pennant battles and ultimately who prevails as the 2017 Champions. Until then, let’s acknowledge the forward-thinking and hard-working athletic trainers, surgeons and therapists who, with aqua therapy, keep players healthier and get them back to the field sooner.
If you missed our recent webinar, “The Hydrotherapy Toolkit: An Equipment Guide to Elevate Rehab,” you can view it on-demand here>>