Water has long been used for its therapeutic effects. Russian immigrant Dr. Igor Burdenko has combined water therapy with land exercises for some incredible results. Among his success stories is former Olympic skater Nancy Kerrigan.
Many athletes have been helped by the Burdenko Method, but the results with average people, who have had serious injuries, is probably more newsworthy.
He has gotten results with some, where other methods failed, from knee and back problems to those with varying degrees of paralysis. One of the distinguishing aspects to this method, is exercise for areas of the body away from the pain.
Good therapists know that the body works as a unit and that where it hurts isn’t necessarily the problem, but the result of a problem elsewhere.
Burdenko starts his patients in deep water with a light flotation vest, allowing them to stretch and move in ways that would be hard to do, otherwise. This reduces the effects of gravity, making it easier to move.
This also allows them to be in a vertical position, which helps place some traction on the bones. This mild stretching creates space between the joints, taking pressure off them.
The water both supports the body and provides resistance, at the same time. Exercising in the water is less stressful on the joints. When you do movements in the water, it can help reduce swelling in the joints, partly due to the movement itself and also because of the water pressure.
Gradually, patients incorporate exercise in shallower water and on land, to prepare them for working against the forces of gravity. By combining water and land exercises in a specific manner, this method has seen some great success.
The Burdenko Method looks to develop balance, coordination, flexibility, endurance, speed, and strength.
Putting the body through movement is key in trying to restore function and reduce pain.