Hydrotherapy, in its earliest forms, has been in use in veterinary medicine since the early 19th century. Underwater treadmill use and hydrotherapy is effective in rehabilitation medicine because it allows the patient to move more easily in a reduced weight-bearing environment. Basically, this means that patients are more able to exercise their muscles without their own body weight putting pressure on sore joints or limbs, allowing the patient to gradually increase muscle mass with less discomfort.
At Pawsitive Steps Rehabilitation & Sports Medicine, we are proud offer both a hydrotherapy pool and an underwater treadmill to tailor rehabilitation and exercise programs that fit each patient's individual needs. Each modality has its own unique benefits and will be recommended based on specific case requirements. Swimming is good exercise for front limbs and core strength because dogs swim predominantly with the front legs. However, the underwater treadmill more effectively targets the rear limb muscles, controls range of joint motion and level of exertion and can potentially provide better overall conditioning and strengthening which may be important in specific circumstances.
When is underwater treadmill therapy recommended?
Underwater treadmill therapy has become an integral part of today's veterinary rehabilitation practice. It aids in post-operative recovery, improving muscle strength and enhancing range of motion, which enables the affected body part a quicker return to function.
Chronic conditions, such as hip dysplasia, degenerative myelopathy, luxating patella, spinal injury, and arthritis, can also benefit from the therapy's buoyant resistance. Patients may also experience pain relief during their hydrotherapy sessions due to the relaxing effects of the warm water.
Used in conjunction with proper nutrition, underwater treadmill therapy also offers a safe and effective exercise option for weight management. While the buoyant nature of the water helps to alleviate some of the excess pressure on the animal's joints, its resistance increases metabolic demand and improves muscle strength.
Additionally, underwater treadmill and hydrotherapy can be wonderful exercise for animal athletes. This type of controlled training can help to build and maintain muscle and strengthen the core to keep them in peak performance between seasons. Using various water levels increases the resistance, offering a more challenging workout, which is great conditioning for those athletes preparing for competitions in the off season. Exercise packages can be tailored to the unique needs of each animal.