Sunday, November 11, 2012

Water: The Ideal Medium for Training, Recovery and Rehabilitation

One of the most devastating drawbacks to being injured is your inability to continue your physical training.  As coaches, we see this all of the time. When an athlete gets side- lined from injury they are now at risk of losing their ability to perform at their best and sacrifice hard earned qualities of fitness.

One of the many benefits of using water as a medium to train is that you can continue to develop your athletes without their injuries limiting them. Injured athletes will receive all the therapeutic and rehabilitative qualities from being in the water, not only addressing the injury, but also maintaining   their level of fitness.( In many cases,  athletes will improve their fitness level.)

When immersed in deep water, you have the freedom to move in a supportive environment.  Hydrostatic pressure is pushing against your body from all angles. This is the equivalent to exercising in a pliable cast.  Even an injured athlete will never pay for their mistakes training in the water.  Deep water exercise creates traction and joint space. Gravity is pulling you downward while buoyancy is pushing upward. This creates space in all the joints as well as puts your spine in traction. The viscosity of water creates resistance in all vectors, a necessity for developing strength and flexibility. Combine all of these elements with increased circulation, and you have the ideal medium for training, recovery and rehabilitation. The beauty is - they can be addressed at the same time!

Here is one of my athletes working out in the pool 24 hours after his cast was removed from his foot. He plays varsity soccer and sprained his ankle playing in a tough game two weeks ago. After an hour in the pool, he immediately noticed the reduced swelling and stiffness in his foot.  He was also happy to work hard in a pain- free environment and not feel like he was losing his fitness level. 

Our goal was to open his hips and promote circulation. We also wanted to relax the muscles in his whole body and release them from protecting the injury.


Here is one of my college athletes - he is a Division 1 baseball player. When he came to me, he was still recovering from a bad break in his foot.  Even months after his cast was removed, he could not train effectively because his foot was still swollen and painful.  He worked hard with me all last summer in the pool and was fully ready for his fall training .  He also had a successful baseball season this past spring.