Major League Baseball’s Pittsburgh Pirates, long-time SwimEx devotees, have purchased a new 600T SwimEx with a built-in treadmill for their Florida training facility.
“We’ve had our SwimEx in Pittsburgh for about ten years,” says team trainer Erwin Valencia, M.E.D., P.T., A.T.C., C.S.C.S., P.E.S. “We chose SwimEx for our training facility in Florida for two reasons. Having one in Florida means we don’t have to send injured players back to Pittsburgh, so they are able to concentrate on getting better, not on travel. Second, players are used to the one in Pittsburgh, so this gives them a sense of familiarity. If a player is hurt this gives them a comfort level and it offers a continuity of protocols for me.”
Valencia appreciates the SwimEx’s patented laminar flow that delivers a wall of water. “The water pressure is consistent and strong, it’s not just jets like other pools. It’s great for deep water running and the work stations allow for a comprehensive workout.”
In fact, SwimEx is the only aquatic therapy pool with a current strong enough to hold a body up for 45 degree running. The swimmer or therapist can control and change the pool’s counter-current on the fly from inside or outside the pool for multiple intensity levels. The integrated treadmill also has an adjustable speed for varying workouts.
Major League baseball can lead to major league injuries both acute and cumulative. The Pirates use their SwimEx to get players back on the field as fast as possible.
“In baseball, we see a lot of shoulder injuries and rotator cuff strains, plus lower extremity injuries such as calf and hamstring strains, ankle injuries, even low back pain,” Valencia says.
SwimEx aquatic therapy allows players to rest and rehab overused muscles in the nearly weightless environment of chest-deep water without risk of further re-injury.
“The buoyancy of aquatic therapy lets us start running form therapy right away. As soon as we get a player into the pool he’s running within one to two days. Compare that with land-based therapy where you have to start them on the bike, if they can tolerate that you move on to elliptical, then treadmill, then finally back to running on the field,” Valencia explains.
Speed of recovery is a major benefit, Valencia reports. “It’s scientifically proven that water adds compressive force, which increases hydrostatic pressure and gets blood flowing faster, promoting healing. For injuries, I can challenge the body a bit more without the pounding, which always causes issues. You can do the same amount of work but get extra benefit.”
Valencia says the workstations are beneficial as well. Sitting on the benches enables calf exercise if the player cannot stand. Players can also perform upper body and core exercises, using the water’s resistance as they sit next to the flow to maximize benefit. Many trainers add swimboards, paddles or water dumbbells to increase resistance and build strength.
Valencia advises any team or trainer considering a SwimEx to actually get in one and do the workout. “Get Dave Brennan or Rick McAvoy (SwimEx Educational Coordinators) to show you the how to use each workstation. You’ll get a better sense of its worth when you can feel it for yourself.”