Injuries are a disruption to training that nobody needs. You watch months of hard work slip away as the injured muscle, tendon, joint or limb repairs itself, probably gaining a bit of weight and losing much of your fitness level. For some it might even end your training programme permanently as you struggle to get your motivation going again. That is where aqua jogging can help you out.
Aqua jogging is a non-weight-bearing activity that consists of running in deep water. Joggers wear buoyancy belts or suits to keep their head above water, which enables them to “run” rather than tread water. It is a way of continuing your training while injured or can be used as an alternative form of training you can add to your training programme. This impact-free form of exercise is similar to running on land, with added resistance and minus the impact you place on your joints. It’s a great cardiovascular workout as well as a muscular conditioner which minimises joint, bone, muscular, tendon and ligament stress. It is ideal for any age as the therapeutic qualities of water provide a safe, effective environment for exercise.
Benefits of aqua running
- Effective weight loss
- Sports training
- Maintain fitness levels
- Improve balance and agility
- Stay fit during pregnancy
- Ease arthritic pain
- Recover from surgery
- Prevent sports injuries
- Treat back or joint pains
- Heart healthy activity
The technique is to reach out with the leading leg and pull it through the water strongly and evenly. The trailing leg needs to be actively pulled forward (because of the increased resistance of the water) at the same time. The front foot should “land” in front of the body''s centre of gravity. Keep the knees “low” and actively flex the rear foot at “push-off”. Your arm action should be the same as for land running. Technique is very important and may take some getting used to, but practice makes perfect.
Here are a few advanced techniques once you’ve mastered the basics:
- Maximum Speed – Make the legs go as fast as possible, but keep your strides as short as you can.
- Heel Lift – Keep the upper leg as still as possible while flexing the lower leg. This is just like a hamstring curl but upright. It is a difficult move and requires great concentration. If you do it correctly, you will have the tendency to move backwards in the water but this is normal for this stride. The hands can be used to prevent this and to stabilise the body.
- High Knees – Drive the leading leg up as high as possible. A slight forward lean is recommended with the trailing leg landing significantly behind the centre of gravity and the arms need to be very active.
- Middle Stride – This is the most difficult pattern to learn and is used in the most demanding workouts. It should mimic the running style of a 400m/800m runner with the leading leg landing slightly in front of the centre of gravity. The trailing leg must be strongly curled up at the back of the stride to reduce the force needed to bring it forward. The arms must be vigorously used.
There are various other apparatus that can be used, including specially designed dumbbells which offer different resistance variations, webbed gloves and foot gear. There are numerous exercises catering to different fitness levels that can be performed throughout an exercise session, which is recommended at 40 minutes at least three times a week and includes a warm-up and cool-down to keep muscles in perfect working order.