Equine Water Treadmills are a great way to enhance suppleness, stride length, increase cardio-vascular fitness and help build muscle tone, core strength and overall wellbeing.
They give the horse a highly effective full body workout; improving general fitness, joint flexion and respiration. Depending on water level, the buoyancy of the water reduces concussion and impact on the lower limbs, and encourages an increased range of motion. The high resistance of the water leads to increased muscle activity, and the water pressure helps to reduce swelling, stimulate circulation of the lower limbs and the cold water helps to reduce any pain present.
The height of the water can be adapted to the individual horse, starting off with short dry treadmill sessions for the inexperienced or rehab cases, working to longer sessions with water getting deeper with every session. The deeper water encourages a longer stride length, with a decreased stride frequency which results in increased back extension and flexion.
Some water treadmills also allow for salt to be added to the water to be used in the treatment of inflammation and injury. Salt water can accelerate healing and repair of a number of lower limb injuries ranging from tendon issues to more serious wounds.
Furthermore, an incline can also be seen on various models, to incorporate hill work into the sessions. This work on an incline leads to an increased activity of main muscle groups, with studies showing significant differences in the mean EMG* intensity when working this way.
*Electromyography – measures motor unit activity during muscle action
OVERALL BENEFITS OF A WATER TREADMILL:
- Improves performance
- Encourages soft tissue mobilisation
- Develops core strength
- Reduces recovery time from some injuries by 50-60%
- Improves muscle tone and strength
- Reduces weight bearing by 40-60% when used with greater water depth
- Hydrostatic pressure assists circulation and reduces swelling
- Improves length of stride
- Reduces concussion
- Improves fitness and stamina
- Improves flexibility and suppleness
- Promotes muscle development
- Encourages lateral flexion of the back