Water makes up approximately 70% of the earth and two-thirds of the human body. It has properties that are essential for life, but how does that translate to running? Water itself has many natural properties that can be extremely beneficial to athletes of all stages. Here are just a few of the benefits
- It is low impact and less painful than land training. Running outside or on a land treadmill can be stressful on your body and joints. The cumulative effect of healthy athletes running on land can start to wear on their bodies, causing injuries, joint problems and chronic pain. For those who already suffer from joint or chronic pain, running on land is not even a possibility. An individual can remove up to 90% of their bodyweight when running on an underwater treadmill, which minimizes the risk of injury and undue stress. This produces an environment that is beneficial for avid runners while also being ideal for those unable to run on land.
- It provides increased cardiovascular conditioning. The hydrostatic pressure of the water creates increased thoracic pressure which improves cardiovascular conditioning during exercise. A study done by Iowa State University showed that while cardiorespiratory response can be similar between underwater treadmill running and land treadmill running, heart rate decreased during underwater running. Because of this increase in blood flow, runners also tend to feel little to no muscle soreness during and after exercise.
- It offers more resistance. The viscosity or “drag” of the water provides natural resistance to any movements in the water. Foot and leg muscles can be strengthened while running against this resistance. To make the effect even greater, resistance jets can be used. According to a study at Utah State University, using resistance jets at 100% produces a higher metabolic cost than a land treadmill at a 10% incline.
Once I was introduced to the underwater treadmill, I was not only able to log a bunch of my weekly miles in the pool and reduce the wear and tear on my legs, but I also began running a large percentage of my interval workouts in the pool as well. The recovery time after these workouts was almost zero, and the resistance of the water was improving both my endurance and strength.
- Nick Berra, Masters Runner
As the New Year is upon us, fitness goals abound. As a clinician that may have the opportunity to coach individuals to reach their goals, remember to look to water for an advantage. Fitness programs are unlimited in the water. Most anything that can be done on land can be done in the water. With an underwater treadmill, interval training can easily be accomplished using different speeds, resistance and times.
Learn more about how underwater treadmill running can impact fitness training and view sample workouts in the book, “Underwater Treadmill Running” by Alberto Salazar and Dr. Dennis Dolny. Download your free book here.