As a tennis player, putting a couple of hours on the court can play havoc with my body, as does many other sports like rugby, basketball, volleyball, weight lifting, just to mention a few. Now don’t get the wrong impression, I love participating in these sports and to improve in these sports, I must participate in these sports. It doesn’t change the fact gravity and bodily impact play major roles in soreness and injury. This does shorten athletic participation in both young and old.
Aquatic exercise is the answer! I know you are thinking water aerobics is for my mom or even my grandma and swimming laps is boring. There are more possibilities than just water "aerobics" and lap swimming. Like many great exercise regimen’s, programs and modes of exercise, water fitness has come a long way! Improvements in both equipment and programming have made leaps and bounds (pun intended) in the past 20 years…in the past 5 years!
And remember, aquatic fitness is not designed to replace land-based sports or exercise. Instead, it enhances them! With incorporating aquatic exercise programming into you fitness regimen you will reduce the impact on your body and prolong your athletic careers and prevent injuries.
There are several reasons for this;
Water is 800 times more supportive than air and up to 15x more resistive. Water also reduces the effects of gravity by almost 80 percent (depending on how deep you are in the water). Working out in the water allows you to workout more muscle groups simultaneously, in a more balanced and effective way, and through a larger range of motion. This happens due to the support of water and the fact no matter in which direction or plane you move, you are working against resistance. The harder you attempt to move through this resistance the more resistant it becomes.
Due to these reasons, dynamic flexibility and strength are improved simultaneously. This simultaneous improvement creates balanced muscle growth which creates more stable joints, which helps prevent injuries.Aquatic exercise is also considered a low impact type of exercise.
Other benefits related to aquatic exercise are improved circulation, improved muscle recovery and relaxation, improved heart muscle strength and efficiency and improved breathing. These are all due to the “pressure” water puts on your body while exercising.
Another benefit I will mention is the fact muscle soreness from working out in the water is greatly reduced. When working out on land, as mentioned before, gravity plays havoc. This is because in gravity there is eccentric load (doing a negative). For example, think about a bicep curl. You are pulling up against gravity with the weight you are using. When you lower the weight it must be controlled.This is the eccentric load or negative. Your muscle (bicep in this case) is lengthening and being stressed at the same time. In the water this does not happen (as often). Using the same example in the water- the bicep resists the water as it is contracted. When going in the opposite direction your tricep activates and resists the resistance of the water while it is contracting. Your bicep is relaxed- no eccentric load, no negative. So you are getting muscle strength gains concentrically without as severe muscle tearing. This helps limit soreness.
We all know, depending on how sore we are after a workout, the willingness to get the next workout going, drops- A LOT!
Without going in to too much depth (this time) as mentioned, there are more programs than just “water Aerobics”. There are aquatic HIIT ( High Intensity Interval Training) programs-like BOQUA®, there are aquatic boot camps, there is aquatic boxing and kickboxing, there are even aquatic bike programs. If you want to focus more on a mind-body-balance there are aquatic yoga, Tai-Chi, and Pilates programs as well.
Just like there land based counterparts, all of these programs can and do challenge your body completely and vigorously. In more cases than not, more completely and more vigorously. If you have never worked out continually, with the effort you put on land, against continual resistance, try it, you will be surprise at how fast it will kick your butt!
As far as equipment goes there is resistive equipment-like bõq®.This type of equipment allows you to get more drag in the water without fighting the principles of flotation.
And there is Assistive equipment- like Styrofoam dumb bells. This type of equipment uses the resistance of flotation to provide strength gains. This type of equipment also “assists” your movement upwards towards the surface because of flotation.
Both types of equipment have a purpose and depending on their use both types of equipment can challenge you maximally.
Lastly, in the 30+ year career I have had in sports medicine, fitness and health, I have not seen or heard of anyone getting a concussion, spraining an ankle, blowing out a knee or stubbing a tow on the weight rack, while working out in the water.
So as you can see, the changes in programming and equipment along with the principles and characteristics water provide, there are more benefits and challenges then meet the eye.
So to prolong your athletic career and prevent injuries simultaneously put aquatics into your regimen! Your body will love you!
For more information on quality aquatic exercise programming near you, contact your local aquatics director.
Get wet….get healthy….stay healthy!