How the UFC is Using Hydrotherapy for Training Elite Athletes

How the UFC is Using Hydrotherapy for Training Elite Athletes

Seventeen years ago, with one room, a desk and a phone, Dana White started a small business in the Nevada dessert.  He was led by his passion for Mixed Martial Arts—the extreme combat sport in which contestants use wrestling, boxing, kickboxing, judo and karate to bring an opponent into submission. What White named the “Ultimate Fighting Championship” (UFC) now dominates water cooler chatter and airwaves.

In May 2017, UFC opened a $14 million state-of-the-art performance institute in Las Vegas, the company’s home town, enabling all UFC fighters to train uninterrupted from the outside world.

UFC Performance Institute was conceived and designed to deliver the athletes “a holistic integrated performance service portfolio.” It houses under one roof all things necessary for a world-class athlete to succeed—facilities to train, eat, sleep, learn and communicate with the press. The Institute covers 15 acres, 30,000 square feet and includes a restaurant for both athletes and employees, 50+ seat media center, nutrition and sleep stations, outdoor space for meetings and the world’s most advanced training modalities, including a HydroWorx 2000 Series pool.

James Kimball, VP of Operations for UFC Performance Institute recently stated,

“ The HydroWorx underwater treadmill pool provides integral functionally to our team at the UFC Performance Institute and the UFC athletes that utilize it. Not only is it a great recovery modality, but it allows athletes to maintain and increase their conditioning in a preventative capacity while training with limited stress on their lower body.”

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Conor McGregor, UFC’s biggest star, is only weeks away from facing retired boxing great Floyd Mayweather in what many consider the Match of the Millennium. As he steps up his fight preparation for August 26, McGregor has stepped into the HydroWorx 2000, posting videos and captions from the brand-new Performance Institute along the way.

Endurance work on the underwater treadmill. #UFCPerformanceInstitute

A post shared by Conor McGregor Official (@thenotoriousmma) on

Training in the water will help McGregor in at least 5 ways:

  • Easing Pressure on Joints: with water chest deep, the athlete is bearing only 20-25% of his bodyweight, reducing joint pressure and pain.
  • Reducing Lactic Acid Buildup: Natural hydrostatic pressure of water are reducing swelling and inflammation caused by heavy training.
  • Increasing Strength: Strength is increased when muscles are working constantly against the added resistance of water. Therapy jets can be added to increase difficulty.
  • Promoting Relxation: Water increases kinesthetic awareness of body and promotes relaxation.
  • Increasing Range of Motion: The warmth of the water relaxes joints and muscles, increasing range of motion and increased flexibility.

Heavy bags, punch mitts and mouth guards will always have an essential place in the world of Mixed Martial Arts. And with UFC’s enhanced commitment to fighter health, ultramodern training and recovery modalities—such as aquatic therapy—will, too.


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