Submerge, and then emerge feeling better
Whether you’re recovering from a knee, ankle, stress fracture or plantar fasciitis injury, or you just need to take a break from pounding on dirt or asphalt, you may want to give pool running a try.
It’s not only a healing way to address your injuries while you maintain your fitness level, but also very forgiving and relaxing, especially when temperatures during the day prohibit any other outside training. Pool running has many benefits. Running in place in the water takes the pressure off your legs while preserving leg strength. Also, you use the same muscles as you do on land, but with less impact.
Several years ago, a friend of mine who was training to compete in a half marathon had a setback with a bad knee injury. She was told not to run at all, not even on a treadmill, and had to find a way to maintain her level of fitness while recovering. Her physical therapist suggested pool running with a flotation device. Being a sailing enthusiast and not having a pool, she would go out on the boat with her husband, tie herself to the side and, with the aid of a float, simulate her running movements in the water for an hour at a time. She did this right up to the day before her event and managed to run a personal best for the 13.1-mile race.
It’s best to run in the deepest side of the pool where you don’t touch bottom. Your time in the water should equal the time you would normally run. You can incorporate high knee-lifts, speed workouts and strides. Warm up easy for the first five minutes, and then go hard for a minute or two and slowly for one. Play some music by the pool to reduce boredom.
When you start your water workout you’ll feel the additional resistance on your legs and you’ll fatigue more quickly, so don’t try to do too much. If you’re a good swimmer, you can forego a floatation vest for an even harder workout, but if you’re not comfortable in the water, or not a good swimmer, please wear a floatation vest. Use smooth movements and keep an erect position while you jog. Don’t point your toes; keep your feet flat pointed forward, just as you would on land.
Studies show that you can maintain maximal oxygen consumption, leg muscular strength and endurance for as much as three to four weeks of deep-water training. Always check with your doctor or physical therapist to ensure this workout will interfere with your recovery.