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Why Wear Footwear for Aquatic Fitness

LOVE YOUR FEET - STUDENT HAND OUT (pdf)                    



           On land, shoes are considered a must for a successful workout, whereas in the water, most individuals do not realize they also need to dress for success. Technology and research has increased considerably over the past 20 years and there are now specific water shoes available for both instructors and participants. Instructors should wear a sports shoe if teaching on deck for protection against impact and slipping (see #8 below), while a participant should, minimally, wear an aquatic sock in the water. If new shoes are not in your New Year’s budget, try putting your synthetic athletic shoes through the washer and keep them only for use in your water class. Pictured is the NEW Speedo Waterbuoy shoe -a light weight, comfortable "Croc- like" shoe that has traction and support for your participants. 
           1. Helps prevent accidental slips and falls on the deck. How many of your participants are elderly? Is there a real potential for them to break a bone if they fall? Even “younger” participants can badly sprain a joint if they slip or fall.
           2. Provides traction or “grip” to the pool bottom. Shoes are important for participants that need more stability. Remember that stability and balance are inherently linked. The better balanced and more stable a person is, the more comfortable and happy he/she will be in your class.
           3. Increased traction also translates to increased speed. Increased speed can transfer into increased power. The more speed and power that a participant can generate, the higher the intensity of their workout. Participants concerned about weight management will get “more bang for their buck” because they will be able to burn more calories during their workout. Athletes or more advanced participants will be able to challenge their cardiovascular system much more effectively.
           4. Whether working in shallow or deep-water depths shoes will increase resistance on the lower limbs. Shoes act to increase the surface area of the foot as it travels through the water resulting in an increased drag on the legs. Your participants will receive greater muscle conditioning and cardiovascular results.
           5. In the deep water some shoes will act as buoyant floats. When this happens your participants will have to work to “anchor down” their feet against this buoyancy. The result will be better core conditioning (abdominals and low back), and increased strength in the hips and legs.
           6. Protection for the feet. Some pools can have a variety of coatings on the bottom. If a pool has a combination of smooth and rough areas there is the potential for class participants to move from one area to another. Shoes can help to protect them from stubbing their toes, scraping their heels, or even cutting their feet should they encounter a raised edge. Some of those edges can be sharp!
           7. Protection for the joints. The water offers a low-impact medium for an effective workout; however participants need to remember that there is always some impact traveling through the ankles, knees, hips, and low back with every rebound step that they make. Many participants with joint issues prefer working in a transitional depth to reduce impact on their joints. However at this depth they may not be strong enough to get a good work out. Instead, offer them the option of wearing shoes and moving to shallower water. This will allow them to work in a depth that is more beneficial to their workout while providing added protection against impact.
           8. Professionalism. We have all heard the word but do we know what it means? As Instructors/Trainers, we are the leaders and role models for our participants. On deck we are subject to the same concerns as our participants in the water, but with the addition of gravity. As Instructors, we are also subject to joint impact on the concrete, lacerations to the feet, or slips and falls that could lead to injuries. Not withstanding physical concerns, how embarrassing would it be to fall in front of your class? If we do not take care of our own bodies, how can we expect participants to listen as we offer advice on how they should take care of themselves?
           By Lynn Kabaroff, who is a Certified Kinesiologist, Certified ACE Personal Trainer and TaeKwonRobics Instructor .She is Certified WaterART Grand Master Trainer and a Pro Trainer


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