Underwater running has become quite popular for rehabbing injuries or just adding extra "mileage" and cross training for endurance athletes. Underwater running has the following benefits:
- Decreased impact. Neck high water reduces impact by 90%. Less impact is great for injuries such as IT Band, achilles injuries, plantar fascia injuries, and knee pain to name a few.
- Water is 600 times more dense than air! This makes running in water imposes forces on your arms and legs that you have never felt before! Great hip flexor strengthening, shoulders, hamstring and glutes. If your technique is correct you should feel all of these muscles engage. Don't be surprised if they are a little sore afterwards. Also, water running will force your arms to work efficiently( it is very difficult to water run without good arm form, you will feel the forces on your arms and you will naturally gravitate to return your arms to the most efficient, easy position. If you have bad arm form, water running will fix that!
- Increased hydrostatic pressure: this is beneficial for injuries. It creates an environment of slight pressure on sore muscles, etc. It acts like a compression socks act on your legs, but over your entire body. It allows the heart to work less hard due to less gravity effects on the blood flow and can actually increase stroke volume ( the amount of blood pumped per beat). Hydrostatic pressure will decrease blood pooling, thus injuried areas wil receive more blood flow.
- Increased turbulence actually massages muscles with every movement.
- For extra miles, aqua running is great! If it can give you an extra 20-30 minutes of running while you are trying to ramp up your miles, this is one way to do it!
- Consider adding to your post long runs, all the above benefits should shorten your recovery time.
- It can keep you sane while you can't land run. We all know that feeling of being unable to run.