Spring Training Prep for the Regular Season with Aquatic Therapy
Ah, spring! When fans and players head out to the diamond for another year of America’s game. As spring training ends, players and athletic trainers alike know it’s called “training” for a reason. It’s a time to get ready, mentally and physically, for the grind of the season, which begins today. We caught up with several athletic trainers to discuss how and why they use HydroWorx pools for rehab, strength and conditioning.
For Seasoned Players
Preseason activities usually consist of “power” activities—a combination of strength and speed, which are high intensity, near competition level. Athletic trainers trying to spare older players the impact on their lower bodies, back, knees and ankles by using the underwater treadmill in their HydroWorx pools for cardio training in the water. Resistance jets are used while players sprint or run distance to offer an added challenge. Athletic trainers can replicate any outdoor workout, if not improve it, and completely remove the impact of land-based running. Older pitchers, especially, benefit from less pounding while conditioning in a safe and functional way. Treadmill speeds are easily changed to provide interval training with minimal to no impact on joints.
For Early Return to Function
For players who are non-weight-bearing or partial weight-bearing, water therapy is a welcomed opportunity when rehabilitation on land is limited, especially when dealing with a significant ankle injury, stress fracture, or knee injury. With the help of water, players can address limitations in their mobility, stability, and endurance in the water with no risk of re-injury. The unique properties of water allow for constant functional resistance—every movement made in the water is resisted, and as the velocity of the movement increases, the resistance increases exponentially. Aquatic training can be highly effective in developing all types of strength for an earlier return to sport.
For Change of Pace Resistance
Some clubs use their HydroWorx pools as a “change of pace resistance program” that the players like simply because it’s something new. Rehab and conditioning, like anything, can become mundane with the same types of exercises and repetition. Anything athletic trainers can do to liven up rehab, provide enthusiasm and encouragement and new “scenery” for players is useful.
For Shoulder Woes
Shoulders, elbows, wrists and hands are complex structures that are vulnerable to a variety of injuries occurring through repetitive overuse activities, such as constant throwing. Rotator cuff tears are baseball’s most common injury! A key tool for early upper body rehabilitation can be aquatic therapy. The resistance jets are an important tool in rehabbing shoulders. Athletic trainers start players off with a light stream, then progressively build to a stronger flow, giving them something to push through. Athletes can perform range of motion activities with less pain, guarding and muscle spasms in water.
Some clubs have HydroWorx pools in both their spring training facilities and their home stadiums to provide athletic trainers a consistent opportunity to utilize aquatic therapy in conjunction with land-based therapy programs year round. This allows players to further improve range of motion, reduce muscle spasms, and integrate dynamic movement patterns to enhance tissue healing and recovery.