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Deep Water Is For Running

They say still waters run deep, but I say deep water is for running. Let me explain.

I recently suffered a pulled calf muscle — an entirely new injury to me. After three days of doing the R.I.C.E. thing (as well as feeling sorry for myself), I was craving a workout, but still walking with quite a limp. I could tell that even the elliptical was still out of my range, so I tried some deep water running. I strapped on the flotation belt (my gym has a closet of all sizes), cinched it tight on my waist, and walked into the pool.

Did I feel like a fool at first? Simply put, yes. Did I feel great after running intervals for 25 minutes? Yes. The great thing about deep water running is it works the same muscles running on land does minus the pounding, so it is gentle on injured joints — it didn't bother my calf. I could really feel the work in my hamstrings, which felt great. And I could tell my core was engaged too. My arms got a nice workout as well, something I don't usually experience when running. Deep water running is no joke when it comes to cardio. It didn't get my heart rate up as high as if I was running on land, but according to my heart rate monitor I was only about 10 beats per minute slower than when actually running. Running in water is considered a great way to maintain cardiovascular fitness when rehabbing an injury, and in general it's a great way to cross train. I think I might be a convert.

If you're interested in trying it out check out my tip when you read more.

Here are a few things I learned in my 30-minute workout:

  • Warm up in chest-high water. Swing your arms front and back, mimicking the action of running. Do high marches to warm up your hip joint. Combine the two actions and march yourself into the deeper water where you can no longer touch. Then start "running" at a slow pace.
  • I found leaning forward is necessary to move. If I stayed upright, I felt like I was just treading water. But don't lean forward from your waist. Use the chi running concept and feel your entire body leaning forward. This will work your core.
  • Play around with your speed and the size of your stride. This will make the workout more interesting and you will work different parts of your muscles.
  • Don't forget to cool down. Swim a few laps or grab a kick board and slow things down for five minutes after your workout.

If you're sick of the treadmill, nursing an injury, or looking for a joint-friendly workout, give deep water running a try.

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