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Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Underwater treadmill exercise to strengthen muscles, hip-abduction strength and gait strength

Underwater treadmill is a treadmill which is submerged in water and provides exercise to people who have undergone total hip replacement. Underwater treadmill is a key component in rehabilitation centers to increase muscle strength and motion of hip. It is also used in Veterinaries to improve the motion of animals like dogs, horses, etc, increase their resistance and make their movements more swift and smooth.

Underwater treadmill consists of a treadmill submerged in water pool. The water pool in an underwater treadmill is normally maintained at chest height of the person to whom exercise is advised by doctors or recommended by medical specialists. The person then walks or runs at any desire pace on the underwater treadmill. An underwater treadmill has a conveyor belt on which the person walks or runs. The walking belt of the underwater treadmill reacts to the input it receives from the user’s exercise or feet. During exercise on an underwater treadmill resistance is provided by the surface area of the user’s body moving through the water. The walking pace on the underwater treadmill is then increased slightly to increase the resistance substantially.

Increase in walking pace is balanced by the natural resistance offered by the water in contact with the human body during the exercise on an underwater treadmill. This gradually increases motion, muscle strength and strengthens the hip.

Underwater treadmill exercise is recommended under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist, doctor, medical specialist or therapist who have received individualized instruction in physical rehabilitation of patients,

Underwater treadmill is used for walking and back stepping during aquatic therapy. Underwater treadmill used during aquatic therapy enables to curb problems relating abdominal, back, knee and strengthens the muscles/hip. Underwater treadmill offers walking, back stepping and retro walking exercise.

Underwater treadmill helps exercisers who have undergone a total hip replacement to return to their normal activity. Prior to exercise on an underwater treadmill these patients struggle with maintaining normal coordination of gait, range of motion at the hip and hip strength. Exercise on an underwater treadmill addresses these issues for the patients. Hip-replaced individuals are recommended to begin their post-operation rehabilitation work with an underwater treadmill exercise. Underwater treadmill exercise is advised by sports medicine specialists and physical therapists.

Underwater treadmill offers the potential advantage of water buoyancy while walking on the treadmill. Exercising on an underwater treadmill removes the need for the newly reformulated hip to support full body weight during each step of the walk. During exercise on an underwater treadmill, the water provides mild resistance to the motion of the person which enables them strengthen the hip and hip-flexor muscles over the time.

Patients in rehabilitation centers use underwater treadmills to minimize postoperative swelling, increase muscle strength and encourage early use of the operated limb. In rehabilitation centers, underwater treadmill is a part of the program DVSC.

Underwater treadmill exercise includes forward or reverse actuation of the treadmill belt including back stepping or retro walking and a unique back and abdomen strengthening exercise. Design of underwater treadmill is safe and secure for all pool users with no sharp edges or protrusions. Underwater treadmill exercise can be performed with bare feet. No electromechanical or electronic components are needed to be attached to the body of the person while exercising on an underwater treadmill. Underwater treadmills are made of a solid construction which is impervious to pool chemicals allowing continuous submersion without need for any type of maintenance.

Underwater treadmill improves hip-abduction strength and gait stability during the critical rehabilitation period following surgery. Underwater treadmill is safe but is recommended under the supervision of medical specialists, doctors and physical therapists.

by Atanu Ghosh


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