Roper (2013) Acute Aquatic Treadmill Exercise Improves Gait and Pain in People With Knee Osteoarthritis

Objective: To examine the acute effects of aquatic and land treadmill exercise on gait kinematics as well as the level of disease-specific and movement-related pain for individuals with osteoarthritis.
Design: Quasi-experimental crossover design.
Setting: Biomechanics laboratory.
Participants: Participants (NZ14; age, 43e64y) diagnosed with osteoarthritis at the knee (nZ12), osteoarthritis at the knee and ankle (nZ1), or osteoarthritis at the knee and hip (nZ1).
Interventions: Participants performed 3 exercise sessions separated by at least 24 hours in 1 week for each mode of exercise (aquatic treadmill and land treadmill).
Main Outcome Measures: Gait kinematics and pain were measured before and after each intervention.
Results: The angular velocity gain score during stance for left knee extension was improved by 38% after aquatic treadmill exercise (PZ.004). Similarly, during swing, the gain scores for angular velocity were also greater for left knee internal rotation and extension by 65% and 20%, respectively (PZ.004, PZ.008, respectively). During stance, the joint angle gain score for left hip flexion was 7.23% greater after land exercise (PZ.007). During swing, the angular velocity gain score for right hip extension was significantly greater for aquatic exercise by 28% (PZ.01). Only the joint angle gain score for left ankle abduction during stance was significantly higher after land exercise (4.72%, PZ.003). No other joint angle gain scores for either stance or swing were significantly different for either condition (PZ.06e.96). Perceived pain was 100% greater after land than aquatic treadmill exercise (PZ.02). Step rate and step length were not different between conditions (PZ.31e.92).
Conclusions: An acute training period on an aquatic treadmill positively influenced joint angular velocity and arthritis-related joint pain. Acute aquatic treadmill exercise may be useful as a conservative treatment to improve angular speed of the lower-extremity joints and pain related to osteoarthritis.

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