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PLoS One. 2017 Aug 2;12(8):e0182320. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0182320. eCollection 2017.

Quantifying kinematic differences between land and water during squats, split squats, and single-leg squats in a healthy population.

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School of Health and Sports Sciences, University of the Sunshine Coast, Sippy Downs, Queensland, Australia.
School of Science and Engineering, University of the Sunshine Coast, Sippy Downs, Queensland, Australia.


Aquatic exercises can be used in clinical and sporting disciplines for both rehabilitation and sports training. However, there is limited knowledge on the influence of water immersion on the kinematics of exercises commonly used in rehabilitation and fitness programs. The aim of this study was to use inertial sensors to quantify differences in kinematics and movement variability of bodyweight squats, split squats, and single-leg squats performed on dry land and whilst immersed to the level of the greater trochanter. During two separate testing sessions, 25 active healthy university students (22.3±2.9 yr.) performed ten repetitions of each exercise, whilst tri-axial inertial sensors (100 Hz) recorded their trunk and lower body kinematics. Repeated-measures statistics tested for differences in segment orientation and speed, movement variability, and waveform patterns between environments, while coefficient of variance was used to assess differences in movement variability. Between-environment differences in segment orientation and speed were portrayed by plotting the mean difference ±95% confidence intervals (CI) throughout the tasks. The results showed that the depth of the squat and split squat were unaffected by the changed environment while water immersion allowed for a deeper single leg squat. The different environments had significant effects on the sagittal plane orientations and speeds for all segments. Water immersion increased the degree of movement variability of the segments in all exercises, except for the shank in the frontal plane, which showed more variability on land. Without compromising movement depth, the aquatic environment induces more upright trunk and shank postures during squats and split squats. The aquatic environment allows for increased squat depth during the single-leg squat, and increased shank motions in the frontal plane. Our observations therefore support the use of water-based squat tasks for rehabilitation as they appear to improve the technique without compromising movement depth.

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