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Water Walking

Walking is the most used movement on land and possibly the most under-rated movement used in the water.  For that reason a walk or walking pattern shouldbe included in just about every kind of class. Walking simply stated is essential for the improvement of daily living skills!  Walking should be performed in every direction in a pool: forwards, backwards, sideways, on a diagonal, in zig-zag fashion, in circles, lines and squares. The legs can be crossed over front or back in a vine, and turns can be added (but keep a watch out for total hip replacement or knee replacement folk!).

USE THE PROPERTIES OF WATER
BUOYANCY – Lifts the body up, so all upwards movements are assisted while downward movements are resisted (as opposed to land). Using the Modified Rebound (MRB) working position the body pushes down and then up against buoyancy.  


RESISTANCE – On average, movement in the water is approximately 12 to 15 times greater in resistance without equipment as opposed to land moves . This can be increased using speed - (the faster you move in the water the more resistance will be placed on your body); and more surface area, Shoes and mitts will help enhance surface area for the hands and feet and add drag force in all depths.
Resistance is three-dimensional and is affected by other properties of water such as water depth, lever length, inertia, turbulence, and wave or form drag.

FIRST - Introduce using the water for assistance and resistance
1) Use a flat scull and walk. (see photo). Be sure to try this travelling forwards, backwards and sideways.Begin with small strides and gradually increase stride length and speed.
2) Walk using opposite arm & leg as on land in all directions as listed above.  
3) Walk and add a knee lift or rotation of hip.
4) Walk and lift the leg forward, point the toe, then press down to the pool floor with the heel
5) Walk backwards (toe/heel) one step at the time and hold on one leg.
6) Walk sideways and pull the water towards you
7) Walk sideways pushing the water away from you

Introduce more resistance with Water Depth

If your pool runs from shallow to deep water depths then see how moving  from the shallowest area through to the deepest part of the shallow area is challenging. Walk and see if you can maintain the same speed changing water depth. You may walk in a square or 2 steps forward, 2 steps side, 2 steps back, 2 steps side, Try walking box in other directions.


LEVERAGE – Lengthening and shortening levers (arms and legs) will change the center of buoyancy and the resistance placed on the body moving through the water.  Long levers provide more resistance or work than short levers.  Long levers also provide a greater torque on the joint therefore, before changing to a longer lever, slow down the move to decrease the stress on the joints and muscles that will be challenged.

Lever length - arms & legs.

Hold both arms on your buttocks. Walk both forward and backwards and feel how the water's drag will change - when you hold both arms out to the side to add resistance. 

INERTIA (Use water currents)
A group class may walk in the same direction and try a one foot hold or  “body-check” on one foot for balance

TURBULENCE (choppy water - create waves)
Have everyone touch three sides of the pool walking tall without bumping into someone else.Make a dragon line and follow the leader in an out.

Work with a partner to incorporate properties of water:
Work with a partner to cue correct arm/leg movements. Try to follow one another and check that the arms and legs are working correctly (with functional walk with opposition arms.) The right hand reaches towards the left leg. The left hand reaches towards the right leg.


OVERLOADS:  Adding Equipment to a walking program:

  • Resistive equipment such as flex paddles, tethers can add effective overload for most programs.

  • Use a paddle for extra resistance to target upper body muscles as you walk

  • Use a partner and a tether (tubing with handles) to target strength and balance 

  • Buoyant equipment such as balls, barbells and noodles require more control since their action must be down against buoyancy to be effective. 

  • More control is required on the upward return movement to stop the movement in a safe position to protect the shoulders.

  • Use small splash balls for hand eye coordination and reaction response

  • Use a noodle for resistance and/or balance assistance

  • Use barbells for buoyant resistance for upper body strength or hold for assistive balance (especially for those less abled).



THERMOREGULATION
Is the ability to maintain the bodies core temperature based on external factors such as the temperature of the water or air, the participants clothing, body composition, medication and hydration level.  

People need to stay warm and comfortable while in the water. Using the muscles  - especially the large muscles in the legs supplies the body with heat therefore it is important when doing specific strength training to work in conjunction with, and be aware of,  the pool and air temperatures.

For example:
In cooler pools  when specifically training upper body musculature, keep the large muscles in the lower body moving to maintain thermal regulation.  It is simple to use a variety of walking or other simple movement patterns that are easy to follow. The goal: keep your class moving continuously and stay warm.   When training lower body strengthening exercises some simple cardio can be inserted using the same muscle group to stay warm.

Whereas:
In warm therapy pools the air temperature is often too high to allow for safe dissipation of body heat.  Therefore it is important to alternate short intervals of any "vigorous or cardio work"  with longer intervals of less vigorous sets so that participants do not overheat and can work out more comfortably.   Upper body strengthening can be done in a neutral stationary or athletic stance position. Lower body strengthening can be done in an Extended working position.

There are many movements and combinations, all you have to do is use your imagination: Use walking to introduce your customers to the power of water.


Check out our *Water Walking Instructor Certification 


    
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