The Benefits of a Hydrotherapy Treadmill
A hydrotherapy treadmill allows the veterinary team to exercise their patients in a controlled, safe environment. These systems are often used for cruciate ligament and TPLO repair, hip dysplasia and weight loss training.
The buoyancy of the water reduces the force on joints, making this form of therapy ideal for injured or arthritic dogs. The heightened resistance of the water increases muscle tone and cardiovascular endurance.
Unlike swimming, which doesn’t allow for functional walking movements to be used, hydrotherapy allows the patient to exercise his muscles through their full range of motion on a treadmill. This can help increase strength while minimizing the pressure placed on joints. A therapist can help the patient while on the treadmill in many ways. For example, the therapist can stand behind a neurologically weak patient and squeeze their hamstrings to encourage the posterior stride to achieve stronger forward motion in the anterior phase of their walk.
The warm water in a hydrotherapy tank (about 85 degrees) soothes sore muscles and loosens tight tendons, while increasing blood flow to healing tissues. The water also provides buoyancy, which limits the amount of weight on injured joints and limbs, and helps to increase range of motion. The warm water stimulates circulation and helps to reduce swelling in the joints and muscles, making it a great therapy option for arthritic dogs and those recovering from injuries.
The best part is, the underwater treadmill can be used on overweight dogs as well! This is because it’s not just the weight of the dog that’s reduced, but the resistance provided by the water. The therapist can also adjust the speed of the treadmill to match your dog’s fitness level and recovery goals.
The warm water of the hydrotherapy treadmill helps to loosen tight muscles and tendons. This allows for greater flexibility and movement hydrotherapy treadmill during exercise which in turn leads to a faster recovery time. This is especially helpful in patients with arthritis and those that have sustained muscle, ligament or tendon injuries.
In addition to the buoyancy, hydrostatic pressure and resistance created by the water, the treadmill itself provides a more controlled environment for exercising than outdoor pools or the ocean. This allows for safe, controlled walking and running exercises at varying speeds to build endurance, strength and cardiovascular health.
Most dogs are very comfortable using a hydrotherapy treadmill, even those that have been resistant to walking on a regular treadmill or being in water. This is primarily due to the fact that they are slowly introduced to the tank and exercise area. They are usually lured in with treats and then the treadmill belt moves under their feet allowing them to experience the benefits of the aquatic therapy without feeling overwhelmed.
For tetraparetic or paraplegic patients, it is important to have two or three people in the pool: one person to work with the rear limbs, and a second to help prevent head submersion. This is why most veterinary rehabilitation centers have invested in the HYDRO PHYSIO series of underwater water walkers. They are designed with continuous veterinary input and have many unique features.
Relieves Joint Pain
In a heated pool, the buoyancy of water reduces joint pressure, decreasing pain in injured muscles and joints. Water exercises also improve flexibility in weakened muscles, while stimulating a greater degree of muscle tone. As a result, people can exercise longer in water than on land without suffering from fatigue and sore muscles.
The warm water relaxes muscles, drawing blood into the joints and relieving pain and stiffness. This increased flexibility helps patients enjoy a better quality of life and less stress. In one study, aquatic exercise improved hip flexion and abduction in 71 people with knee osteoarthritis. The reduced pain and stiffness experienced by the participants boosted their confidence to perform land-based exercises.
Water treadmill walking also has been shown to decrease the amount of inflammatory cytokines (tumor necrosis factor, interleukin, and nitric oxide) in overweight people with knee osteoarthritis. The reduction of these inflammatory agents in the body may help delay the progression of osteoarthritis and other joint disorders.
The HydroWorx pool features a treadmill, resistance jet technology, computer camera systems, and other equipment hydrotherapy treadmill that make it easier for clients to perform their workouts underwater. The adjustable water temperature and other features of the pool allow clients to work out for longer periods of time, boosting their cardiovascular endurance and helping them burn more calories while strengthening and stretching their bodies.
The buoyancy of the water reduces stress on joints and muscles while the turbulence and resistance of the treadmill increase cardiovascular endurance. Incorporating walking and running into a rehabilitation program strengthens muscle, improves balance and coordination and boosts cardiovascular endurance, all without the pain that comes with putting too much pressure on bones and joints.
In addition to the physical benefits of using a hydrotherapy treadmill, the warmth of the water soothes sore muscles, increases blood flow and helps return fluid that is trapped in swelling tissues. The heat of the water also decreases sensitivity in damaged tendons and ligaments. A therapist will monitor a patient’s responses to the treadmill therapy and make adjustments accordingly.
Once a dog is comfortable using the hydrotherapy treadmill, it’s usually easier for them to walk correctly. Some dogs, especially those who are rehabilitating after a spinal surgery or those with severe joint problems, require a person in the water to help them move their feet in the correct pattern and to prevent them from “dragging” their feet. This is called “patterning.”
A trained therapist will set the treadmill to a low speed and walk with the dog. The therapist will adjust the water temperature as necessary to maintain optimal exercise conditions. Increasing the speed of the treadmill increases exertion through turbulence and increased resistance. A faster speed also challenges a dog’s stability and requires more leg movement, which is beneficial for muscle strength.