Aquatic plyometric training leads to similar improvements in leg strength, jumping, and sprinting when compared with land plyometric training

Sophie Heywood

The interest in using plyometric exercises to improve power and function in older adults(1) and people following knee surgery (2) or with neurological conditions (3) is growing.

There may be some value in performing plyometric exercises in water as the unloading property of buoyancy reduces joint loading in the impact phase. However, reduced loading in water may also limit performance gains.

 In a recent systematic review co-authored by some of our staff, aquatic plyometric training was compared with land plyometric training (n=16 studies) in healthy adults(4).

The aquatic plyometric training exercises and dosage was generally the same as the land-based programs.

Aquatic training was most commonly performed in waist to chest deep water, two to three times per week for six to 12 weeks with final program foot contacts (numbers of jumps or hops) ranging from 120 to 550.  

Aquatic plyometric training resulted in similar improvements in knee strength, vertical jump, and sprinting compared with land plyometric training. The limitations of these results are the quality and number of the studies in review and different types of training in the included studies.

The lower and slower impact loads (when landing) in water need to be looked into further to see how they might work in rehabilitation programs.

This is an excerpt from an Australian Physiotherapy Association InMotion article on five discussion points about the benefits of aquatic physiotherapy in rehabilitation and the prevention and management of a variety of conditions. You can see more here

References (including links)

1 Vetrovsky, T., Steffl, M., Stastny, P.,& Tufano, J. J. (2019). The efficacy and safety of lower-limb plyometric training in older adults: a systematic review. Sports Medicine, 49(1), 113-131.

2 Buckthorpe M, Pirotti E and Della Villa F. Benefits and use of aquatic therapy during584 rehabilitation after ACL reconstruction – A clinical commentary. Int J Sports Phys Ther.585 2019;14:978-993

3 Cordner, T., Egerton, T., Schubert, K.,Wijesinghe, T., & Williams, G. (2021). Ballistic resistance training: feasibility, safety, and effectiveness for improving mobility in adults with neurological conditions: a systematic Review. Archives of physical medicine and rehabilitation, 102(4), 735-751.

4 Heywood, S. E., Mentiplay, B. F.,Rahmann, A. E., McClelland, J. A., Geigle, P. R., Bower, K. J., & Clark, R.A. (2021). The Effectiveness of Aquatic Plyometric Training in Improving Strength, Jumping, and Sprinting: A Systematic Review. Journal of SportRehabilitation, 1(aop), 1-14.