All runners experience injury, regardless of age, experience, or skill level. And when athletes are injured, it’s best to rest the body, which means halting all jogging or running activities. If you have been sidelined by injury, fear not – there’s still a way for you to stay in shape: aquajogging. Olympic champions and athletes swear by it, so why won’t anyone try it?
Even if you’re not injured, aquajogging can supplement your normal running routine and workout regime to boost your endurance without wearing out your legs and joints.
If you wish to know more about aquajogging, you’ve come to the right place!
What is Aquajogging?
Aquajogging, also known as water running, is a form of exercise that simulates the movements and benefits of running or jogging, but it is performed in a pool or body of water. It involves running or jogging upright while wearing a buoyancy belt or vest to maintain buoyancy and stay afloat. It’s a form of cross-training and rehabilitation using low-impact resistance training.
In aquajogging, the individual runs or jogs in water, performing similar leg movements and arm swings as they would on land. The water’s resistance challenges the muscles and doesn’t impact the joints like typical running or jogging. The intensity of the exercise can be adjusted by altering the speed, stride, and range of motion.
Though aquajogging is often done in swimming pools, it can also be performed in natural waters. Participants are immersed up to their shoulders and can run or walk in the water. They use a water belt around their waist to stay buoyant and upright. It’s important to note that the water belt doesn’t provide the same support as a lifejacket, so inexperienced swimmers should be supervised. Additionally, swimmers can wear ankle supports, water gloves on their hands, and water shoes on their feet to enhance their aquajogging experience.
Aquajogging can be customized to individual fitness levels and goals. It can be incorporated into a regular exercise routine or used as a cross-training method to complement other forms of exercise, such as running or strength training.
Aquajogging is usually done for these reasons:
Aquajogging is a popular choice among injured runners as it allows them to run without the discomfort or aggravation of their injuries from striking the pavement. In fact, a 2015 study suggests that deep water running during the rehab process can help maintain fitness levels. It keeps them active yet safe while recovering from an injury.
Improving running form
Aquajogging is not only beneficial for injuries. One key advantage is that it enables you to replicate your running form when on land. Incorporating water jogging into your training plan can improve cardio output, enhance posture and form, and increase muscular strength while minimizing the impact on your body.
Gentle aerobic fitness
Due to hydrostatic pressure in the water (the pressure exerted by the water against the pool’s walls), aquajogging provides a gentler aerobic workout. Running in water typically lowers your heart rate by approximately 10 to 15 beats per minute compared to exertion on land.
Note that aquajogging should be performed with proper technique and safety precautions. Participants may still need to consult with a healthcare professional or a qualified aquatics instructor before moving forward, especially if they have specific health conditions or concerns.
Benefits of Aquajogging
Aquajogging offers several benefits for individuals of different fitness levels and goals. Here are some key benefits of aquajogging:
A beneficial training option for all runners
Runners perform aquajogging as part of their training. As it can help strengthen muscles and improve cardiovascular input, it can help a runner sustain their energy, form, and speed on a race or any running endeavor. It can also make a difference for these groups:
- Runners who don’t do cross training
- Runners who have tight hips
- Runners who spend hours at a desk every day
- Runners with recurring injuries
Suitable for all ages and fitness levels
Aquajogging offers a unique way of moving around the water. It’s not just for runners or those training for some sport. It’s suitable for those who can’t get into traditional swimming. It can also be performed by people who:
- Are overweight
- Have neck, shoulder, and back pain
- Have lower limb arthritis
- Have long-term illnesses
- Are elderly
- Are children
- Are training for swimming
- In rehabilitation or recovery from an injury
A good low-impact exercise
Aquajogging is a low-impact workout that significantly reduces joint stress, making it an ideal exercise for individuals with joint pain, arthritis, or those recovering from injuries. The buoyancy of the water supports the body, reducing the impact on the feet, ankles, knees, and hips.
Conditions the heart
Aquajogging provides an excellent cardiovascular workout. The water’s resistance increases the intensity of the exercise, challenging the cardiovascular system and helping to improve endurance and overall stamina when running on land.
Strengthens and tones the muscles
Aquajogging effectively strengthens and engages multiple muscle groups throughout the body that are often left weak and neglected by running. The water’s resistance activates the legs’ muscles, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves. It also works the muscles in the core, arms, and shoulders, as they assist in maintaining proper form and balance.
When strengthened, these muscles can make a runner more powerful and injury-resistant. It can also help in long-distance races, as stronger muscles can help you maintain your form and continue to run smoothly.
Helps in injury recovery and rehabilitation
Aquajogging is often used in rehabilitation programs for individuals recovering from injuries or surgeries. The water’s buoyancy reduces stress on injured or healing tissues while providing a controlled environment for gentle movement and strengthening exercises.
Aids in weight loss
If you’re a runner taking a break from running for a while, you can avoid gaining weight by aquajogging. It is a calorie-burning exercise that can help create a calorie deficit, supporting weight loss or weight maintenance goals. The water’s resistance also adds to the overall energy expenditure, making it an effective option for people looking to shed excess weight.
Improves flexibility and range of motion
The buoyancy of the water allows for a greater range of motion during aquajogging. The water supports the body, reducing joint compression and facilitating movements that may be limited on land. Regular aquajogging can improve flexibility, joint mobility, and overall range of motion.
Helps improve mental and emotional well-being
Aquajogging, like any exercise, can positively affect mental and emotional well-being. The rhythmic movements and the sensation of being in the water can promote relaxation, reduce stress, and enhance mood. It can also provide a refreshing break from land-based workouts or sedentary activities.
Versatile and accessible
Aquajogging can be adapted to different fitness levels and abilities, making it accessible to many individuals. It can be tailored to specific goals, whether it’s a high-intensity cardiovascular workout or a gentle recovery session. Aquajogging can be performed in pools, which are readily available in many communities, so it can be done even if you have no access to specialized facilities.
Equipment Used for Aquajogging
Aquajogging requires specific equipment to enhance buoyancy and provide support in the water. Here are the primary pieces of equipment used for aquajogging:
- Buoyancy belt or water belt – The absolute basic equipment for aquajogging is the belt. It is worn around the waist or upper body to help maintain an upright position and provide buoyancy. These belts are typically made of foam or neoprene and have adjustable straps for a secure fit. The belt gives the exerciser a lot of extra activity options.
- Water shoes or aqua socks – Water shoes or aqua socks are designed to provide traction and protect the feet while in the water. They are made of materials that dry quickly and have a non-slip sole for better grip on wet surfaces. These shoes also provide some cushioning and support during aquajogging.
- Swimwear – Wearing appropriate swimwear, such as a swimsuit or swim trunks, is essential for comfortable and unrestricted movement during aquajogging. Opt for swimwear made of lightweight and quick-drying materials.
- Aqua dumbbells or hand weights – These can be used to add resistance and increase the intensity of the workout. These specialized weights are designed for water use and are made of buoyant materials like foam or plastic.
- Waterproof music player – Some individuals enjoy listening to music or audio while aquajogging. Investing in a waterproof music player or a waterproof case for your existing music player can enhance your aquajogging experience.
It’s worth noting that the specific equipment used may vary depending on personal preferences and the availability of resources. When starting aquajogging, it’s advisable to consult with a knowledgeable aquatics professional or instructor who can guide you on proper equipment usage and help you choose the right gear for your needs.
Proper Techniques in Aquajogging
Proper aquajogging form must imitate your running style. You will need to get into the deep end of the pool, then use an aquajogging belt if you’re not a good swimmer or if you’re a beginner.
Aquajogging techniques involve specific body movements and form to simulate the running or jogging motion while in the water. Here are some key techniques to keep in mind when aquajogging:
Maintain an upright posture while aquajogging. The key to good form while aquajogging is to keep the upper body straight and not lean forward too much. Keep your head up, shoulders back, and core engaged. This position helps maintain balance and stability in the water.
Practice using a higher knee lift and a more compact back kick compared to running on dry land so that you can remain upright. It will also enable you to perform harder sprinting activities.
Mimic the leg movements of running or jogging while in the water. Bend your knees and lift your legs, driving them down and backward in a circular motion. Imagine you are cycling your legs through the water.
Only the back half of the running motion must be made in deep water – there’s no forward reach with the foot and the foreleg. If the knee lifts while the other foot drives down and back, you’re aquajogging incorrectly. This running form is used so you can duplicate the effort and speed of high-intensity running.
Coordinate your arm movements with your leg movements to simulate a natural running or jogging motion. Swing your arms forward and backward, keeping them slightly bent at the elbow. The arm swings help maintain balance and provide additional propulsion.
Find a focal point at eye level to keep your head level. Avoid letting your shoulders wobble. Aim for smooth and efficient running form without unnecessary movement.
Here are some common mistakes to avoid:
- Swinging arms across the chest – Instead, pull your arms straight forward and back.
- Rocking shoulders – Keep your shoulders stationary while moving your arms at the shoulder joint. Your torso should remain solid and motionless, with only your arms and legs in motion.
- Bending and straightening elbows – Maintain a 90-degree angle at your elbows, allowing movement at the shoulder.
- Insufficient elbow pull –Focus on pulling your elbows back far enough so that your hands come all the way to your hip.
- Head Swaying –Keep your head level without any side-to-side motion.
Full range of motion
Extend your legs and arms fully during the movements to engage the muscles fully and maximize the workout. Emphasize a wide range of motion to challenge yourself and increase resistance.
Cadence and speed
Adjust your cadence (stride rate) and speed based on your fitness level and workout goals. You can vary the speed by increasing or decreasing your leg movements’ intensity and pace in the water. Increase your cadence for a higher-intensity workout or decrease it for a more relaxed session.
Keep your core muscles engaged throughout the aquajogging session. This helps stabilize your body and maintain proper form. Focus on tightening your abdominal muscles and maintaining a strong, stable core.
Breathe naturally while aquajogging. Take deep breaths in a relaxed manner, ensuring a continuous flow of oxygen to your muscles. If needed, you can coordinate your breathing with your arm swings or find a comfortable pattern that works for you.
Tips for Safe and Effective Aquajogging
Here are some tips to help you make the most out of your aquajogging sessions:
Wear the right gear
Use a buoyancy belt or aquajogging vest to maintain buoyancy and an upright position in the water. Also, wear comfortable swimwear and water shoes or aqua socks for traction and protection.
Choose the right water depth
Find a water depth that is deep enough to keep your feet off the pool floor. Go to the pool’s deep end so there is zero resistance when jogging. Always use an aquajogging belt if you’re not a good swimmer or if you’re just starting out.
Focus on form and technique
Pay attention to your posture, keeping your head up, shoulders back, and core engaged. Mimic the leg movements and arm swings of running or jogging on land. Maintain a full range of motion in your legs and arms to engage the muscles fully.
Start with warm-up exercises
Before starting your aquajogging session, warm up your body with gentle stretching exercises and mobility drills. This will prepare your muscles and joints for the workout and reduce the risk of injury.
Control intensity and speed
Gradually increase the intensity and speed of your aquajogging as you warm up. You can adjust the pace, stride length, and arm swing to modify the intensity level. Start with a comfortable intensity and progress gradually based on your fitness level and goals.
Incorporate interval training
To add variety and challenge to your aquajogging routine, incorporate interval training. Alternate between periods of higher intensity and lower intensity or active recovery. For example, you can alternate between faster-paced running and slower jogging or walking in the water.
Listen to your body
Pay attention to how your body feels during aquajogging. If you experience any pain or discomfort, adjust your technique or intensity level accordingly. It’s important to listen to your body and avoid overexertion.
Even though you’re in the water, it’s important to stay hydrated. Drink water before and after your aquajogging session to maintain proper hydration levels.
Cool down and stretch
After your aquajogging session, cool down with a few minutes of easy movements in the water, such as gentle walking or slow jogging. Follow it with stretching exercises to promote muscle recovery and flexibility.
Learn from an instructor
If you’re new to aquajogging or want to improve your technique, consider seeking guidance from a certified aquatics instructor. They can provide personalized tips and proper technique demonstrations and help tailor the workout to your specific needs.