Diving into Sports Aquatic Therapy
A few weeks ago we dove a little deeper into the definition and benefits of aquatic therapy. But what about ‘sports aquatic therapy’? Is there a difference?
From the previous post, we learned that aquatic therapy is simply physical therapy that is performed in the water. Then the easiest definition of ‘sport aquatic therapy’ is both physical therapy and performance training in the water for athletes and/or specific sports.
More and more physicians, athletic trainers and coaches are turning to aquatic sports therapy to help athletes reach new heights. The rigors of intense training and competition takes a physical toll no matter how tough the athlete. Aquatic therapy exercises have proven to increase performance and speed up injury recovery.
The properties of water, for example, its buoyancy, enable athletes to train even when they are injured. The underwater treadmill allows athletes to run against variable resistance jets to improve cardiovascular and muscle strength without joint strain. (Read more about associated research with underwater running here.) Deep-tissue massage jets are also used to decrease lactic acid build up in stressed muscles. This speeds recovery time and assists with pain management.
Dr. Curt Draeger of Gold Medal Motion in Wisconsin also counts on aquatic sports therapy to get his Olympic-level decathletes “Gladiator-Ready” for competition. He has seen great results using the resistance jets with deep tissue massage.
“This an integral part of our treatment, to strip the muscle as deep as we can go in order to get the muscle ready not only to decrease lactic acid but to actually elongate the muscle fibers and get fresh oxygenated blood supply in between the fibers so that muscle is ready to contract and ready to go,” said Dr. Draeger.
Another example of sport aquatic therapy is from the St. Louis Rams Head Athletic Trainer Reggie Scott. Scott has seen great benefit from using the pools and underwater treadmills for not only rehabilitating athletes, but also conditioning the professional football players. He’s able to adjust jet resistance to modify workouts from a quick warm-up to an intense cardio session. Exercising underwater, players have the ability to shuffle sideways and backpedal without joint strain, which is useful for surgery recovery.
When learning about aquatic therapy and sports aquatic therapy is it beneficial to understand the specific cases/uses and advantages of aquatic therapy.
- Rehabilitating/Recovering from surgery
- Increasing overall fitness levels
- Enhancing leg strength and lean body mass
- Improving or maintain cardiovascular fitness while injured
- Enhancing power and explosive movements
- Utilizing for recovery and rejuvenation post-work or post-competition.
- Producing better balance and reduce the chance of re-injury
There is a lot of information out there about this topic. We have created a simple document for you to have that discusses the 5 major ways that aquatic therapy is impacting and changing rehabilitation. Download now!