Athletes can get back in shape with pool exercises.
Physical therapy, or PT, rehabilitates injured people back to work, sport and daily functional activities. Sports PT focuses on returning athletes to sport with increased strength, stamina and flexibility to perform at the level demanded of them. Sports PT also utilizes hydrotherapy, which are pool water exercises, to rehabilitate injured clients. Exercises in the water improve fitness and help to prevent future injuries.
Jogging in the pool is a low-impact alternative to running on pavement. The pool's buoyancy creates resistance for you to push down against the water with your legs, mimicking a running action. Pool jogging can be done with a flotation device worn around your waist to help keep you afloat. Try it by adopting an upright posture in the water, leaning forward slightly from the pelvis. Bend both knees up to a 90-degree angle; extend one hip by pushing your foot down and behind you. Avoid bringing the foot in front of you as this creates a cycling action and is less efficient for running. Increase the intensity of workouts by jogging hard for 30 seconds followed by 30 seconds of lighter jogging repeated 10 times. Include a five- to 10-minute warm-up and cool-down.
Athletes can do pushups in the pool to develop upper-body strength. This exercise can be modified according to your individual capabilities. Start by facing the pool wall with both hands palm-down resting on the deck, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Push down through your upper body to lift yourself half-way out of the pool; pause and return to start position. Repeat 10 times or until fatigued. Increase the difficulty of the exercise by lifting more of your body out of the water.
Strengthen core abdominal muscles, legs and train your balance with alternating leg kicks. Stand in chest-height water close to the wall of the pool for support if needed. Contract your abdominal muscles as you stand tall with arms straight out by your sides. Kick your left leg straight out in front of your body. Return to start and repeat with your right leg. Complete 10 to 15 repetitions per side or until fatigue sets in. Repeat two to three sets.
Lunges in the pool can be more forgiving on achy knees thanks to the effects of buoyancy. Do this exercise standing tall in water at about waist-level or just below the chest. Adopt a stride stance so that your left leg is a few feet in front of your body and right leg back. With your belly muscles tight, slowly lower the back leg toward the pool floor. Your front knee should not extend past your toes. Repeat 10 times or until fatigued and switch legs. Increase exercise difficulty by holding a float-weight in each hand and pushing them straight down into the water as you lunge.