HydroWorx Bubble Busters: Challenging Misconceptions with Aquatics

HydroWorx Bubble Busters: Challenging Misconceptions with Aquatics

At HydroWorx, we’re all about breaking through the myths that permeate the aquatic therapy industry.  With our first Bubble Busters post, we blew away the idea that therapy pools are only useful for working patients’ lower extremities.  Today, we’ll tackle three other common aquatics misconceptions with the help of Lance Walker, Global Director of Performance at Michael Johnson Performance in McKinney, Texas.

Myth #1:  Aquatics is limited to rehab. IMG_2097

As Walker has noted, any professional who is limiting aquatics to only rehabilitation needs to “wake up and smell the bacon,” because this limitation is definitely considered “old school.”

Today, trainers, athletes, coaches and exercisers are all using therapy pools as modalities to cross-train without putting major stressors on the body.  For instance, throughout the United States, most professional athletic teams and colleges with high-profile sports teams have at least one HydroWorx pool at their disposal, and Walker says with confidence that they definitely use those pools for more than rehab.

Yes, they use their therapy pools for rehab if a player is on the injured list, but they also use the pool as a secondary training modality.  Even Olympians are regularly getting in the water to increase their strength and endurance without hurting their bodies.

Myth #2:  You can’t match land-running intensity in water.

Sure, the HydroWorx is a revolutionary therapy pool with an underwater treadmill – but can it really mimic the land-based intensities for athletes?  Absolutely!

Walker commonly works with his athletes in the pool, focusing on plyometrics, dynamic mobility, reactive footwork and much more.  As a tool, the therapy pool provides the efficiency and effectiveness Walker’s clients need to improve their performance (and potentially make more money in the case of pro athletes).

So how does this work from an evidence-based perspective?  The key is to make use of all the pool functions.  By turning on the high-powered resistance jets and/or increasing the speed on the underwater treadmill, it’s possible to foster an environment where high intensity is the name of the game.  However, there’s no pounding of the joints, which makes an intense conditioning pool workout perfect for adding training hours without risking injury. Recent research from Utah State University further validates this truth. The researches conducted the study, “Metabolic Cost Comparison of Running on an Aquatic Treadmill with Water Jets and Land Treadmill with Incline,” to compare the metabolic costs at specific inclines while running on a land based treadmill to running speeds on an aquatic treadmill with the resistance jets. And the study concluded that running on an underwater treadmill against the resistance jets results in a greater change in metabolic cost than running on a land based treadmill.

Myth #3:  It’s impossible to replicate a land running or walking gait in the water.

Ah, the old “gait replication” misconception!  We hear it a lot, and so does Walker.  In fact, it’s one of his “hot button issues.”

Science has now proven, thanks to stop-motion videos, that it is absolutely possible to replicate land movements in the water.  The key is to equip the therapy pool with an underwater treadmill, whereby it’s easy to examine an athlete’s movements via an underwater camera.

By studying the hip, knee and leg angles appropriate for healthy land-based running or walking, not to mention foot strike tendencies, athletic trainers, physical therapists and strength coaches can help their clients mimic those movements in the pool.  Not only will the movements then translate to land, but the stressors on other parts of the body will be lowered.  Plus, there’s no awkward transition of different movements between the land and the water; the athlete is improving and perfecting his or her natural gait whether in the pool or on the track.

There you have it!  More food for thought, and more myth bubbles popped thanks to practical experience mixed with scientific evidence.

To learn more about these misconceptions from Lance Walker himself, you can watch the On Demand webinar for Free today!

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