When you sustain an injury or have pain in your lower limbs and/or spine you’ll find your physiotherapist utters the words “you’ll need to decrease or stop training / exercise for a small period of time to allow the tissues to heal”. In your mind there are probably alarm bells going off in your head, indicating fear of losing fitness and strength, and an over-riding need to say “this isn’t possible!” and “absolutely not”. Try to take a big deep breath because after a short period of relative rest, there may be some cross-training or low impact exercise you can start doing earlier than your normal exercise regime! This hopefully allows you to take a sigh of relief that you can choose an exercise plan that can keep your body safe but help you stay fit!
Now, this may not provide comfort for everyone as the thought of water therapy may scare you, as ‘doing laps’ is not your idea of fun! Again, take a deep breath because there is more to water therapy that swimming laps in a pool!
Here are some great ways to work out in the pool with low impact levels:
Intervals of Treading Water
For 30 seconds, in the deep end of a pool, tread water as hard as you can, followed by 30 seconds of gentle water treading or floating if you can. Repeat this process 30 times and you can burn a whopping 1,250kJ!
Lunges in Waist-Deep Water
Doing jump lunges in the water can significantly decrease the impact on your joints, making them entirely joint friendly. Make sure in your lunge position that your thigh of the front leg and the pool floor are parallel, and your back leg has a bent knee also. When you jump out of the lunge position you swap legs in the air and land with the other foot in front. Repeat this 20 times.
Push-Ups on a Step
Your body is buoyant in the water making it feel lighter therefore making some exercises easier, like pushups! The best way to train pushups is to place your hands on the first step and keep your toes on the floor of the pool, putting your body in a modified plank position. From this position simply bend your elbows slowly until your face is just above the water, then straighten arms until you are in the starting position. Repeat 10-15 times, building up to 2-3 sets.
Leg Swing with Resistance
Standing in the water at waist deep, swing one of your legs forward to create a current, pause for a moment then pull your leg backwards to the starting position, and repeat immediately while there is still resistance from the water. Do the same thing out to the side. Repeat both directions 10-15 times on both legs.
Walking in waist deep or shallower water is a great way to build cardiovascular fitness and strength, all while protecting your joints. Some public pools now have dedicated walking lanes!
Written by Allana Slater