Thursday, May 22, 2014

Deep Water Can Help Injured Athletes Heal Quicker And Still Maintain Their Fitness Level

During the winter I work with ski racers at Waterville Valley Academy in New Hampshire. This past January one of WVA's top U-18 athletes, AJ, had an unfortunate fall during a race and fractured his tib/fib.  The break required surgery and placement of a rod into his lower leg.

Needless to say, like every injured athlete, AJ was devastated. Weeks after surgery he began to rehab in the pool. The deep water allowed him to gently move his leg with no pain. More importantly he was able to unlock the rest of his body- hips, knees, ankles, back, shoulders- and take stiffness out of these joints in a gravity -free environment. Once the entire body could release and relax, better circulation could occur. Once circulation improves. healing can occur!

Every day for weeks AJ would "limp" down to me along the pool's edge, hop in the water, work hard with zero pain, climb out, look down at his leg and say, "Hey, the swelling is down!" He would smile, turn and walk away........with NO LIMP! That motivated him to start his day in the water on his own and end his day working hard with me.

AJ not only battled the swelling with twice a day sessions, but he also maintained a high level of fitness as he was better able to move in the deep water like an uninjured athlete!

It was not long before he was moving in the water well enough to be in a group setting for his pool workouts. That was huge for AJ's mental attitude. Being with his peers and working hard with them helped him see his progress as well as made him feel like an athlete again.


Here is a video of AJ running in deep water wearing flotation cuffs around his ankles. He also has long tubing attached to the cuffs. Note the pelvic strength required to maintain alignment of his spine as he fights to keep his hips under his shoulders. Just months after his injury AJ is able to work as hard as his peers and challenge his pelvic stability and strength, endurance and flexibility!