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 http://www.runnersworld.com/injury-prevention-recovery/benefits-of-underwater-treadmills

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.