Benefits of Deep Water Running

Water running is great for both training and injury rehabilitation

A woman water running.
A woman water running. Tracy Frankel/Getty Images

Athletes of all sorts can attain the benefits of deep water running. It is a great form of cross training and an excellent way to deal with and prevent injuries.

Water running can allow an injured athlete to recover without losing fitness. It can also help with improving running form and decreasing the risk of sustaining injuries by reducing the stress of running on hard surfaces.

Aqua Training Devices for Deep Water Running

The most popular form of aqua training devices among runners is the AquaJogger.

Made from EVA foam, it looks like a belt that you strap around your waist. Almost any flotation vest or belt will work nearly as well. The goal is to keep your body afloat while allowing you to perform a running motion without stress to the body.

Submerged in the water you will have resistance on all sides. This forces opposing muscles to work equally. As you move your arms and legs against the resistance of the water, you will get a great cardiovascular and strength training workout. Adding additional hydro devices, such as socks, dumbbells, paddles, and gloves allows you to vary your effort and intensity.

Benefits of Deep Water Running

In addition to increasing the resistance of movement, being in the water decreases the stress on your joints, while increasing your range of motion. Because there is no impact, an injured athlete can train in the water and remain fit while injuries heal.

An uninjured athlete can use water running as a cross training method, exercising the muscles in a different way from running on land.

This is a benefit if you don't like actual swimming, but you enjoy being in the pool and want to make use of your pool time. It is also a way to work on technique. With water running, you can increase resistance and effort while reducing mileage and the risk of injury. It's also a way to ease exercise boredom.

You can get a good workout at the pool instead of putting in miles on the road, especially in summer or winter when the weather isn't welcoming. If it's raining outside, you may enjoy getting wet in the pool instead.

Tips on Deep Water Running Technique

  • Try to simulate your normal running style.
  • Don't paddle with an open hand or cupped hand. Keep a loosely closed fist and let your legs move you forward.
  • Try to let the bottoms of your feet kick the water behind you.
  • Take short, quick strides. A fast cadence intensifies the workout.
  • Expect a lower stride cadence for your usual amount of effort. Remember that water is more resistant than air and your pace will decrease accordingly.
  • Your heart rate may surprise you. Even though you can feel your rate of effort, your heart rate will be about 10 percent lower than at the same intensity on land.

It may take some practice to get the hang of water running, but if you concentrate on your form, just as you would while running on land, your should pick it up quickly.

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