One of the most overlooked aspects of training is rest and recovery. Often times complete rest for active people is very difficult. There are many benefits to including active recovery sessions in your training. One of the best places to perform an active recovery workout is in the water. The water provides a non-weight bearing environment in that helps reduce stress on the joints, provide traction to your spine, promote circulation and reduce swelling to name a few. The shallow water can provide some of the same benefits by reducing the amount of impact performing similar activities to running. At waist level in the water you are about 50% weight bearing. Last but not least, exercise in the water is fun!
Try these aquatic recovery exercises to improve your performance, reduce your risk of injury and add some variety to your training program.
Deep End Exercises
Wear a buoyancy belt. Perform waking exercises for 2-3 laps & hanging exercises 10-15 repetitions.
Action: Step forward in a normal walking pattern. Alternate arms with each step while focusing on forward movement with proper alignment and posture.
Walk + Stretch
Action: Walk 3 steps then kick your leg forward, reaching for your foot with the opposite arm. Walk 3 steps and repeat with the other arm and leg. Keep torso straight and keep toes up.
Symmetrical Walking with Turns
Action: While walking forward turn palms out and push arms out to align with shoulders. Arms make a breast stroke motion. Bring arms to chest. Return to start position. Take 3 strokes forward, then turn 180 degrees and walk 3 strokes backwards, turn 180 degrees and repeat.
Splits + Spreads
Equipment: 2 long bars
Action: Separate legs in open scissors kick position: one leg straight forward, another leg straight back. Return to start position. Repeat with the other leg forward. Return to start position. Spread both legs apart to the sides, keeping toes up and legs straight. Return to start position.
Tips: Keep legs straight and attain full range of motion with each movement. Feel the stretch while keeping toes up to.
Leg Stretch Series
Equipment: 2 long bars
Action: Bend one knee to a 90° position, keeping toes up. Extend leg straight in front of the body then back to the 90° position. Return to start position. Repeat with the other leg. Repeat the sequence changing leg extension of the knee to an internal position (kicking across the body) then an external position (kicking out).
Equipment: 2 long bars
Action: Run moving to the side lying position using four running steps; pause. Return to start position. Repeat moving to other side.
Shallow End Exercises
Perform walking exercises for 2-3 laps & stationary exercises 10-15 repetitions.
Weight Shift Catch
Action: Shift weight to one leg and simultaneously catch and lift the knee with both arms and pull the knee to the chest, hold the balance. Return to start position. Repeat with the other leg.
Tips: Maintain straight body alignment while pulling the knee up. Come up on the toes each time when pulling the knee up.
Catch + Pull
Action: Walk forward 3 steps and catch one foot with the opposite arm behind body, the other arm reaches straight above the head. Return to starting position. Walk forward 3 steps and repeat with the opposite hand and foot. For an added challenge—before you catch the foot, bend the weight bearing knee down into a squat position and power up to your toes.
Action: Walk forward 3 steps, stand on one leg while swinging the other leg forward, back, forward. Swing the arms so opposite hand and foot are in front. Was forward 3 steps and repeat with the opposite side. Make sure to keep your body straight and sing the leg high back and forth.
Action: Walk forward 3 steps then squat, arms straight forward at shoulder level. As you stand, mimic hurdle motion: one leg kicks straight out, touching the foot with your opposite hand. Other arm extends back. Walk forward 3 steps and repeat with the opposite hand and foot. Get the motion in rhythm, kicking knee is straight, weight bearing leg is on the ball of the foot.
Action: Stand with arms out to side at shoulder level. Step side to side crossing one foot in front then in back (like the grapevine). Take wide steps, keeping your pelvis stable.
Blog post by Eric Chandler.
About Eric Chandler
Eric joins the Cape Cod Rehab Running Team with a background in Exercise Science. He is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), certified in Part I & Part II of the Burdenko Method, a Certified Functional Movement Screen (FMS) Specialist, and has also been training in the TRX Suspension Training Method. Eric looks for his clients’ strengths and uses those strengths to help them get the most out of each session. A recreational runner, Eric has served on many of the CCR Flyers Cape Cod Marathon relay teams as has a goal of breaking 20 minutes in the 5k.