Water-based vs Land-based Exercise – Lauren Turner AEP

Committing to an exercise regime is an important part of improving health and wellbeing. Exercise can come in all different shapes and forms and there are several options to choose from. These options can include, but are not limited to: recreational sports, group classes, gym-based programs, and water-based programs. With this array of choices sometimes it can be difficult to determine which option may be best for each individual. In regards to rehabilitation, there are various reasons why exercise professionals distinguish between providing water-based programs and land-based programs.

Water-based Programs:

When submerged in a pool, the buoyancy of water enables de-loading of the joints to occur. This reduction in stress on the targeted joint allows the exercises to focus on maintaining and improving joint range of motion and functional movement patterns, making this form of exercise ideal for those who are recovering from major joint surgery or experiencing severe chronic pain symptoms. However, whilst the water provides resistance against the moving limb/body part, this sort of exercise does not allow for large strength gains. Therefore, water-based programs are more suited to be prescribed in early stages of treatment.

Land-based Programs:

Whether it be body weighted exercises, resistance-based exercise, or weighted exercises, land-based programs provide strength and stability gains. Most importantly it is a functional mode of exercise. With correct movement patterns, land-based exercises provide the joints to be loaded appropriately as they should in activities of daily living including: walking, ascending and descending stairs, and getting in and out of a chair. Through improving strength and increasing lean muscle mass, this form of exercise provides support and stability to the joints it surrounds. With increased strength and stability, movement patterns can be reinforced and reinjury risk can be reduced.