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Aquatic Muscular Balancing for Injury Prevention

One of the advantages of Working in the water with buoyancy  (as compared to land fitness with gravity) is the natural development of muscular balance and strength. Working on muscular balance helps to decrease and prevent the risk of injuries particularly overuse injuries.

That is part of water training -and is magic.

As you move with full range of motion the body will strengthening one muscle group (i.e. the one pushing into the water's buoyancy) while the opposing muscle group is stretched with the water's natural buoyancy and the upward ascent. The result is that the water naturally strengthens weak muscles and will help to naturally stretch the tight muscles.

The Instructor must constantly think about designing a lesson plan or  program so that patrons will benefit with exercises for effective posture and body alignment. We need to think about this because most daily activities include sitting, walking forward, driving, watching TV or working at the computer which causes a natural imbalance of anterior and posterior musculature.  Let's review  how the muscles generally balance out:

The Average Muscular Balance for a "Typical" Person

strong/tight group

need stretching

weak/loose muscle group

need strengthening


Upper Trapezius




Rhomboids/Middle Trapezius

Medial Deltoid

Latissimus Dorsi/Lower Trapezius

Anterior Deltoid

Posterior Deltoid

Erector Spinae





Gluteus Maximus**

Hip Adductors

Hip Abductors


Anterior Tibialis

** The Moving Muscles  that need to be both stretched and strengthened: Quadriceps, Hamstrings and Gluteus  Maximus

When working on conditioning , ideally spend twice as much time stretching the strong or tight muscles and twice as much time strengthening the weak or lax muscles. However, realize that one size does not fit all and some  clients will not fit into these norms. Muscle balance deviations are dependent on lifestyle (repetitive activities) or chosen sporting activities.

Essentially it is unrealistic to train every muscle group during every program since there would not be sufficient time to target any one effectively. So, vary your programs and  choose wisely.  For example: if you target more upper body strengthening in one program do more for the lower body the next time and stretch everything by using good active ROM throughout the program.WaterART recommends cuing exercise  to allow everyone to work at their own pace i.e.do not count every move or time every exercise set. This will allow everyone to move through their own comfortable ROM and work at personal best intensity. This method allows doing as many repetitions as a person may perform in good body alignment.

Another important point to consider is that equipment is not always suitable for every client. Although equipment may be effective to add intensity/assistance, variety and challenge to a program, always make sure that each person can effectively exercise without equipment before rushing to put equipment into a program. WaterART recommends that, if more specific training is required, the client needs to be introduced to more personalized or specialized teaching opportunities to achieve this goal.

Range of Motion (ROM) refers to movement around a joint without sacrificing stability or inducing pain and discomfort.  On land range of motion is often difficult to maintain due to gravitational pull on the movement.  In water, buoyancy can assist and improve mobility, but be aware that it can also lift a weaker person's limb past their point of comfort or joint safety. It is important to understand and be aware of average functional joint ranges of motion. When using buoyancy to assist movement, cue to 75% of ROM and then allow for buoyancy to help complete full range. The key to improving range of motion is to provide the time for participants to complete the movement correctly. Range of motion is often compromised (shortened) when speed is the driving force for cardiovascular training.

Resistance is best used to increase muscular strength and endurance, as well as to provide the participant sufficient strength to perform cardiovascular sets optimally. Educate patrons that a truly healthy muscle is one that is both strong and flexible. Although, short and fast movements may raise the feeling of intensity, this is often not a functional and safe way to train. Promote muscle strength with optimal length as the way to teach functional movement  and injury prevention. First, utilize the natural resistance of the water by pushing down into the water. Then change the hands or feet positions and the lever lengths from short to long.  Try adding some travel to add intensity prior to adding equipment. There is a sea of water equipment (buoyant or resistive) that may be gradually added as an overload.  With all programs, try to utilize a total body program rather than just speed and cardiovascular sets or segments. Promote and achieve effective training with a balanced and pain free body.

Check out our Tutorials - Live Video session with Master Trainer

Check out Closed Cell Noodles

Check out New Speedo Endurance Bathing Suits

Check out Final Sale Endurance Bathing Suits

Check out New DVD098 - Know Your Aquatic Muscles

Check out Added Aquatic Fitness Value Fitness Kits

Full PDF Article click here

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