There is nothing worse than getting injured and having to stop running and try something else because if it.My new friend Kaitlin Gardner from An Apple Per Day wrote a guest post for me on staying in shape after an injury. Kaitlin injured her knee on the running trail and was recommended by a friend in her running group to try aqua aerobics. After some research and group classes, Kaitlin has fallen in love with it. She’s a firm believer that if you try it once, you’ll see why she loves it so much!
Stay in Shape after an Injury with Aqua Aerobics
If you think recuperating after an injury means sitting on the sidelines and losing your athletic momentum, you’ve got it all wrong. Aqua aerobics offers a complete exercise program that any athlete, from weekend tennis player to marathon runner, can participate in while recovering after an injury. Best of all, aqua aerobics can help a person sustain cardiovascular fitness levels, in addition to desired muscle tone and body fat composition.
For more ideas on how aqua aerobics can help you stay in shape following an injury or illness, click these links:
- The Effectiveness of Aqua Jogging
- Water Aerobics and Water Fitness Exercises
- Returning to Exercise After Injury
In his pioneering book, Daniels Running Formula, Dr. Jack Daniels describes the grace period that occurs when a long-distance runner abstains from running for five days, whether due to injury or other circumstances. Basically, asserts Daniels, there is no measurable effect on a person’s fitness level for five days; after that, fitness levels recede more drastically, and it bottoms out to pre-fitness (sedentary) levels after about 10 weeks of inactivity.
So if you sit around waiting for a shoulder, ankle or neck injury to heal, chances are your fitness level is going to take a hit. But there’s a workaround: aqua aerobics and aqua jogging.
For many athletes, the challenge of remaining fit may be more mental than emotional. We all know people (or may be one of them) who feel terrible after missing just one workout. Now, we know that the body’s muscles and cardio levels do not break down after just a handful of missed workouts, let alone one, as Dr. Daniels’ research has shown. But what about after 10 or 15 missed workouts? While the degree of fitness breakdown may still be barely measurable, how many people can say they don’t feel like a complete couch potato after missing two weeks of working out? Not many. And that’s where aqua aerobics can help.
For serious runners, aqua jogging’s biggest benefit is that deep water running with a buoyancy belt mimics a person’s land-running form nearly identically. Now, combine that with the low- to zero-impact nature of aqua jogging and you have a recipe for staying in shape while recovering from an injury.
Studies have shown that aqua jogging is relatively the same in terms of health benefits as land jogging at low to moderate intensity levels. But to get the same or nearly the same benefits in the pool as you would with a high-intensity run on land, you’ve got to make some adjustments in the pool.
There are several things that you can do to increase the intensity of your pool workout while letting the injured area of your body recuperate. If you have a lower body problem, like an ankle, foot or knee injury, add wrist weights or handheld aqua barbells to your aqua aerobics or aqua jogging routine. This will challenge your heart but allow your lower body to remain protected. Conversely, if it is your upper body that is recovering from an injury, adding ankle weights to you aqua aerobics routine will give the large muscle groups of the legs an extra challenge. For a complete rest to your upper body, rest arms on a foam kickboard or “noodle” and let your lower body do all the work.
If you have access to a pool and have the necessary equipment to challenge those areas of the body that are not recovering from injury, you can stay in shape during your period of recuperation. With water’s natural resistance properties, muscles will be challenged whether you are doing simple calisthenics, such as leg lifts and arm curls (with or without handheld weights). Don’t forget: use the steps for bicep dips and side of the pool to help stabilize the upper body while doing bent-knee twists for the waistline.
Kaitlin Gardner started An Apple Per Day to explore her passion for a green living lifestyle, and healthy family living. She and her husband have just moved to rural Pennsylvania, where they enjoy exploring the countryside to discover interesting and out of the way places. She is also learning how to paint watercolors.