Article provided by Casey Bleistine from Swim Smart at NL Aquatics, Coach and Team USA Triathlete:
Running is a mentally and physically challenging sport, but thankfully, there’s a way to train while putting less stress on your muscles and joints. Training with a SwimEx hydrotherapy pool is a great way to work your muscles, fix your form and improve overall running performance. One of the many benefits is that it’s non-weight-bearing, therefore, there’s less impact allowing you to increase your mileage with less risk of injury. One of my favorite things about a SwimEx hydrotherapy pool is that it allows me to work on form and review drills even with fatigue or sore muscles. Three main workouts that greatly benefit runners in the water are form drills, lateral running and interval training. A SwimEx hydrotherapy pool makes it simple by decreasing pressure from gravity and providing instant feedback.
Highlights of this Article and Video:
A- skip: knee drive
B- skip: hip rotators
AB- skip: combination
Stick steppers: combination helps with striders
Takeaways: corrects form
Helps hip position and hip flexors
Focuses on bringing your knees up and opening your stride.
Works other muscles that you don’t normal engage when running.
Helps with stability, which helps with smoother movement overall
Takeaways: helps with stability and fixes/ opens stride
Delivers a greater stimulus to your heart, lungs and muscles. Increases overall running fitness and speed. Great for dropping time on your mile pace or provides a better kick at the end of a long race.
Takeaways: interval training in the therapy pool allows you to correct form and improve speed without completely tiring yourself out.
Proper Form and Technique
The number one reason why runners become injured is due to improper form and technique. That’s true for any sport, but in running, you’re already pounding your feet on the pavement step-after-step, and to add injury to the mix is not a fun experience. Correcting your form prevents injury, long and short term, and improves your overall fitness level. Two key drills to run through before a run are A-skip, and stick stepper. These two drills are a great substitute for static stretching before a run. They warm up your muscles in a similar way to which they are going to be moving. The first drill is A-skip, which helps focus on driving the knees and body up. It’s important to remember to stay in an upright position and move one arm with the opposite leg to help you drive your body. At a slow, steady pace, you want to drive one knee up, keeping the foot of the leg that is up dorsiflexed. When either foot hits the ground, you must remain on the balls of your feet. You want to make sure that your hips, knees and feet are aligned when bringing your feet back down. This drill is meant to help drive your knee forward while running instead of pushing off to open your stride. Next is stick steppers, which are very similar to A-skips, but are slightly different. This drill is taken at a faster pace and you want to focus on driving your body more forward than up. For this drill, you want to keep the same form and high-knee drive, but throw in butt kicks. It helps to imagine there is a stick at knee level and you’re trying to step over it. This drill is meant to help open your stride and make long runs smoother. You want to do each drill for 15-20 seconds, with little rest in between, and repeat 2-3 x each.
Typically running requires strong calves, hips, thighs, glutes, and hamstrings to help drive your body forward, but there are so many tiny muscles throughout your body that you can work to help improve performance. Balance, is very useful for every athlete, especially runners. Working on balance in a SwimEx pool is a great way to test your balancing skills and push them to a new level without completely fatiguing your muscles. It will also work the multiple, tiny muscles that you never knew were there. Lateral running in a SwimEx pool not only works those tiny muscles, but also allows you to feel and engage them in a way you never thought possible. When lateral running, you want to focus on one side, quickly moving to one side and slowly working your way back, facing the same direction. You want to repeat this process 3-5 x on each side working both abductors and abductors of each legs. This drill is also great for opening up your hips and working your core muscles that will ultimately help you maintain an upright position when running.
Now for all of those competitive runners out there, interval training is one of the key components to speed. If you’re a distance runner, sprinting is typically not your best friend, but with interval training, it can certainly help with that boost at the end of your race. This type of training works by helping increase your cardiovascular threshold, which teaches your body to maintain a faster pace for a longer period of time. By working your body at a higher pace/ intensity, you’re training your body to recover quicker after working out of your comfort zone. Interval training in a SwimEx hydrotherapy pool is not like your typical track or road workout. It takes your workout to the next level without fatiguing and causing sore muscles. An effective SwimEx pool interval workout would be to jog at a moderate pace for 10 seconds, then slowly jog backwards and finishing with a quick sprint. You want to repeat this pattern 4-5 x for one session. The number of sessions you do is dependent on your fitness level. In this SwimEx hydrotherapy pool workout, you are teaching your muscles and cardiovascular system to maintain a steady pace and instantly go from easy to intense in a matter of seconds. Just like sprinters on a treadmill or swimmers, distance runners have their speed work. Interval training maximizes cardiovascular benefits, making your heart stronger and increasing stroke volume.
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