Benefits of Aquatic Therapy

Keeping with the complete approach to wellness at Physical Therapy Associates we offer aquatic based physical therapy treatments in our specialized therapy pool.  You may have heard of aquatic therapy,

and most likely wondered what benefits exercising in water provides. In order to understand why aquatic therapy may be right for you we need to discuss how our therapist harness some key properties of water.


Buoyancy is what makes items float in water. When you are submerged in water your bodies tissues are lifted, and the affects of gravity are decreased on your joints and spine. This allows for more pain free and improved range of motion as well as more in depth strengthening and carryover to your physical therapy treatments on land.

Viscosity is the resistance provided by the cellular bonds that are constantly breaking and forming in water. This is what makes running through water, or moving your open hand, difficult and slower under water than in open air. This is a truly gentle form of resistance that can be modified by our therapists to target your affected tissues with appropriate force.

Hydrostatic pressure is an inward force perpendicular to your body that is applied in water. This reduces swelling in the arms and legs and helps your blood return to your heart more quickly for more efficient exercise.

At Physical Therapy Associates our pool is heated to allow relaxation and improved elasticity of muscles, features underwater treadmills for effective cross training, and is equipped with mechanical current that can be used for swimming in place or as an additional challenge during aquatic exercise. This allows our pool to benefit a diverse population. From seniors trying to increase their walking distance in the community, to those rehabilitating following a knee surgery, all the way to high level triathletes, and many more!

Hopefully this information will help you to understand why your physician or evaluating physical therapist recommends aquatic therapy. Have a happy and healthy week and remember: If its physical its therapy!

Written by: Colten Yeigh, PTA

Underwater Treadmill Benefits

Here is part of an article from Runner's World discussing the benefits of underwater treadmills. Sign up today to try our EndlessPool system!

For the full article go to

Runner's World coach Budd Coates tries out the Hydro Track.

By Megan Hetzel, Published March 17, 2014

Budd Coates, Runner's World coach and four-time Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier, recently tried the Hydro Track.

If you're sidelined with an injury, the quicker you can get healthy and return to running, the better, right? Rehabbing on an underwater treadmill could be your solution. And you don't necessarily have to be an elite runner to take a dip in it.

"Water is a great medium to exercise in," said Timothy Miller, a physical therapist who is the Regional Director of Sports Rehabilitation at St. Luke's Physical Therapy in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. "The buoyancy of the water decreases stress on the joints, the viscosity provides resistance for strength training, and the hydrostatic pressure helps support the body providing a safe workout environment."

Since underwater treadmills mimic on-land running and provide comparable cardiovascular benefits, runners can avoid losing too much fitness while rehabbing. Running through water forces your muscles to work harder than air does, so you can get in a solid workout without running as fast or as far as you normally would outside.

"People can get a good jog in between 4 mph and 5 mph," Miller said. "When I use it, I try to run the same amount of time I would for a regular run, but it ends of being around half the distance."

And you don't have to be injured to reap its benefits. An underwater treadmill is a great option if you're looking to add extra mileage without the extra wear and tear on your legs or if you want to bounce back more quickly after harder efforts. Elite coach Alberto Salazar has his althetes, like top distance runner Galen Rupp, use the aquatic 'mill to supplement their weekly mileage and recover from their road work.

Here are a few common questions and answers about the system:

What do you wear? Spandex or fitted technical apparel work best, but regular swimwear is also a good option. Most athletes run barefoot since running shoes - even minimal models like Vibrams - tend to get soaked and heavy.

How does water alter the amount of impact on your body? Waist-height water reduces your body weight by about 50 percent. Chest-height water creates close to a 75-percent weight reduction. This lowers the impact forces on an existing injury so you can begin therapy sooner while retaining muscle strength and conditioning.

What are examples of injuries that can be used for rehabilitation with an underwater treadmill? According to Miller, most common running injuries can be treated with an underwater treadmill, including Achilles tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS), and generic knee pain. The system can also help rehab injuries like ankle sprains, fractures, and ACL reconstruction. Although the treadmill will not cure an injury, it does provide a means to maintain fitness and rebuild muscle strength, which can speed recovery.