Runners and triathletes recovering from surgery or injury will love the benefits of deep water running. This non-impact exercise will strengthen and provide continued conditioning -- just the ticket for staying in shape while letting your poor foot, ankle, knee, hip or back heal. Give deep water running exercises a try if you need to avoid irritating a weak or arthritic knee as well. With the doctor's approval, you can start reaping the zero-impact benefits of deep water running. It beats sitting on the sofa watching a bum knee heal.
Water versus Land
Before you jump in to deep water running, know the key differences between running in a water environment and running on land. You will run slower in water than you do on land because water offers more resistance, so expect to feel sore and tired at first. You may not think you are sweating while doing deep water running exercises, but think again! Keep that water bottle on hand because it is just as important to stay hydrated when exercising in water as it is when running on land.
Give your favorite pair of running shoes a break -- you won't need them in the water. You will need the right equipment for deep water running, and that means a flotation vest or belt to keep you afloat and upright in the water while running. Aqua shoes are better for shallow water in which you need the traction to keep from slipping; some people like the resistance they offer in deep water. You will also want a good pair of goggles with you in case your eyes get irritated. If you run in an outdoor pool, make sure to protect yourself from the sun with goggles that offer UV protection, a hat, cap or visor, sunscreen and a rash guard swim shirt.
Exercising in Water
Focus on time, not distance. Beginner Triathlete suggests spending the same amount of time running in water as you would for your regular workout on land, and also suggests using a heart rate monitor to keep tabs on workout intensity. Runners World recommends running erect, leaning forward slightly, and using your hands to push back on the water. Exercises can include marching in place with high knees or moving your legs as if cross-country skiing.
Make it Fun!
Face it -- running in a swimming pool is boring compared to running on land, so be creative, think outside the box and make it fun! Add some tunes to the mix, work out with friends, or join a class. Runners World suggests that, if you exercise with a group, bring a ball to toss around or keep things lively with a good game of follow the leader. Let your inner child out and have fun with your deep water run.
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