Here is some exercises that need to be deleted from your programs. WaterART Fitness recommends not to use these exercises or perform the exercises if your Instructor is teaching them. Our goal is to help with health and functional well-being - not to hurt people while exercising. Too many people coming to water exercise programs have joint pain or mobility limitations.
1. Traditional Swimming Arms in a Vertical Body Position is internal shoulder rotation with shoulder abduction (like traditional front crawl or breast stroke swimming). This biomechanical action will cause 100% shoulder impingement as well as forward rounding of shoulders which does not help with proper neck and shoulder posture nor strengthening of the middle back musculature such as rhomboids and middle trapezius. Additionally, the chest cavity is slumped due to the shoulders rounding forward (instead of opening the chest for better breathing posture). A better exercise or way of moving the arms to assist travel and better posture as well as to strengthen the upper body would be pulling the arms out like the palms of the hands are serving a platter. Instructors may also cue to perform a hitch hiking type of arm movement or for optimal upper body strengthening utilize anupright breast stroke with the thumbs up. This will help to place the shoulders in a proper upright body position and open the chest for better head and neck posture.
2. Arms in and out of the water especially quickly or without stopping
You may certainly stretch overhead but it is best to hold the movement in a controlled manner to stretch and elongate the muscle. Overhead movement is functional movement; however, side body positions may be a more protected way to reach overhead when lying on the side especially if the shoulder and neck has pain or limited range of motion. When performing CV sets the arms need to be in the water to secure good posture and balance so that the lower body may generate rhythmical movement to illicit the muscles pumping the blood to the heart for increased V02. Upper body strengthening needs to be performed under the water otherwise the above water has no resistance nor protection. Moving the arms in and out of the water at speed will cause undue stress on the shoulders and repetitive stress injuries. Therefore, control the arms if going in and out of the water such as when performing a tree pose and a blooming tree pose. This is best performed at the end of a class to provide overall upper body stretching and function.
3. Fast ballistic CV movements ( and the instructor tells you are working harder)? Well you are not! You are only working momentum and cannot maximize cardiovascular output because large range of motion is best for optimal intensity (with travel). Additionally, small fast movements are not functional movement. In fact, muscles are just burning out due to lack of oxygen and muscular fatigue. In water, CV fitness needs to be optimized with changing muscles groups and movement planes. Ideally, movements should be planned changing planes prior to fatigue of the muscles. The key for intense cardiovascular work ( as the goal is to train CV intensity) is to utilize full range of motion, travel and use a variety of working positions prior to speed. Using the WaterART system of progression will provide a much more effective increase in oxygen consumption (V02 )which is an indicator of good cardiovascular fitness. Marathon runners that have high cardiovascular levels utilize large range of motion to cross the finish line not take little fast baby steps. High performance runners utilize large range of motion and do not march on the spot.Trylarge brisk walks or strides across the pool -and feel the difference between just short and fast.
4. Working beyond a normal range of motion with any exercise or movements.
We know that buoyancy assists all upwards movements in the water. So often joints are compromised if there is too much range of motion or joints are compromised because ligaments are sprained or muscles have micro tears. An example may be taking the legs out of the water on a forward kick (normal range of motion is 90 degrees of hip flexion with a straight leg) and going beyond this range of motion often causes low back problems. Performing more range of motion than able will place undue stress on the spinal ligaments especially if the client cannot even lift their leg to that height on land (without aid). A better exercise would be to walk backwards on the heels (keeping the knees soft and stick out the buttocks outwards) with sculling or balancing the arms or holding a noodle for balance. In doing so, the stretch will be felt at the origin of the hamstring muscles (which is the iIschial tuberosity). Lifting high legs will only stretches the hamstrings from behind the knee and a heel dig in front of the body will do the same in a safer manner.
5. Hanging onto the wall with stretching for people with good function (and/or have walked to the pool)
Holding onto the wall negates posture, balance and core training benefits. The greatest benefit of water exercise is to be able to train the core abdominal musculature to support good posture and improve balance. This training helps to prevent falls and injuries on land. Additionally, the goal of the stretch is to lengthen and relax the muscles in good posture so that there are more benefits than risks when stretching in a relaxed and comfortable functional position. There is no reason to hold the wall to support posture and balance when stretching especially at the end of the class when the clients can stretch in good posture and incorporate balance training into the exercises. If a new participant is totally uncomfortable (in which case they need more individualized assistance and training) they can lightly hold the wall or a stable noodle.
Full Article Understanding Exercise Technique & Dangerous Exercises (PDF)
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