injury prevention: be cool in the pool




The first time you watch a water runner in action, vigorously treading in neck-deep water, you may think they took a wrong turn at the track.

I’ll admit it looks silly, but pool running is one of the best forms of cross training for runners. It has the many cardio boosting benefits of normal running but the water creates a low-impact environment so there’s less chance for injury.

Injury is possibly the most dreaded word in the running world and the constant strain from your feet pounding the pavement definitely increases the risk. The good news is water workouts can be done in place of running as injury prevention.

With any new running program a few minor aches and pains are to be expected. If those aches and pains become more frequent listen to your body. Instead of pushing to the breaking point, opt for a day in the pool. You don’t have to sacrifice your body’s well being to have a great workout!

What you need:

  • a pool
  • a flotation device (optional but great for beginners)
  • a timing watch
  • a positive attitude (especially if you’re rehabbing an injury)

Holly has suffered a stress fracture and she is using pool running to stay fit while her injury heals.

To begin, place a flotation device tightly around your waist (you can rent these from your pool). This will help you stay upright so you can focus on your form instead of trying to stay afloat.

In the pool, running mechanics are very similar to normal running except you will be moving a lot slower. Your knee drive should be similar to normal running and the front foot should “land” in front of the body. Your trail leg will need to be actively pulled forward because of the water resistance.

Keep your body upright, remember you are running not swimming. Your hands should form relaxed fists so you don’t cup the water and bend your arms to roughly 90 degrees.

Choosing to crosstrain can feel like torture for some runners. The guilt of taking a day off the track seems counterproductive but in the long run (no pun intended) choosing recovery is the best way to stay injury free!

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2 Comments »


Great post. I think most people only resort to pool running when they are injured and cannot run outside. Regular swimming is also amazing crosstraining for the non injured runner. One great way to prevent injuries from happening in the first place is the growing trend of barefooting, or wearing minimalist running shoes. The idea is that without the interfereance of the shoe, you will land naturally on your foot, causing much less stress on your body and you get immediate feedback on your form. It’s impossible to run wrong on bare feet and still be going after 100 metres.

Comment by Brian — June 10, 2010 @ 2:38 am


I’m learning how to improve my endurance and my swim instructor had me run in the pool. The proper technique was the hardest to get but we kept trying and tweaking my movements until my body followed what my mind wanted it to do. I have to say its a lot of fun so I highly recommend it.

Comment by Ezza — June 12, 2010 @ 8:05 am


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