Pool running/walking may be the perfect way to modify your training when injured. Depending on the severity, you can often continue your training in the pool and still follow your running/walking program. Ideally, you will be doing your run/walk workout in the pool by matching your time and exertion with a deep-water pool run (for swimmers), or a shallow water pool jog/walk (for non swimmers).
In the pool, weight bearing of joints decreases while inflammation is controlled by the hydrostatic pressure and the cool temperature of the water. Ice the injured area for ten minutes when finished in the pool.
How do you Pool Run?
- First of all, put the flotation belt on in the front. Most people wear the belt in the back (where belts are often designed for, but this is incorrect!) which accentuates a bent forward position to begin with. Therefore, put the belt on with the flotation in the front and your posture will be tall and straight in the pool and you will avoid low back fatigue from being bent forward.
- Mimic land running. This sounds simple but more people end up doing a cross between a flutter kick and a cycling movement. They think they're pool running, but because the mechanics are different, the muscles recruited are different, and it is not representative of running on land.
- To do a proper pool run: 1) First drive your knee up and forward, 2) Then extend your lower leg so your foot kicks forward. Keep your foot flexed (toes up). 3) Then drive your heel straight back with a straight leg. Try to maintain a relatively vertical posture in the pool.
- Don't expect to travel any distance when pool running – this is not swimming! When running in deep water, you are in an open kinetic chain which allows your feet to "spin" through without striking the ground, thus eliminating the "push-off" found when land running. Some people slowly crawl forwards when pool running which is fine, but covering distance should not be a focus. Remember a neutral posture!
- Try to match the same exertion level as you would when you normally run on land. Often people move too slowly in the pool. In water, resistance increases when speed increases, so simply speed-up and try to maintain a good pace.
Some Benefits of Pool Running Include:
- Less lactic acid build up. When immersed in water, hydrostatic pressure increases the blood returning to the heart, which in turn increases the volume returning to the muscles. This process increases the supply of nutrients to the muscles and uptake of metabolic wastes while exercising.
- Increase core strength. Because being in water is so unstable, a person constantly adjusts their posture. This increases your postural strength and ability to balance.
- Wider range of motion in joints. You can increase your range of motion without falling over or ruining your posture.
- Decrease weight-bearing effects on joints (less wear and tear).
- Greater resistance to movement. Water being 800 times more dense than air offers greater resistance to movement, resulting in strength benefits.
- Often allows for modified training when injured or even before injuries occur when doing preventative training.
Matt Furlot is a registered massage therapist who is also Aquanetic Therapy & Rehab Institute certified and has his Sports Massage Level III Certification. In partnership he has started 3 clinics, and pioneered Aquanetics therapy in B.C
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