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Closing a Program with a Warm Down

End the program with a thorough warm down of at least 5-10 minutes  or  longer  (especially if you have  frail people with  joint limitations or other common medical conditions). The warm down portion of the program is designed to promote gradual reduction in cardiovascular function while maintaining thermal regulation for comfort.  In other words bring the heart-rate down to a normal beat pattern and keep the muscles warm enough to allow stretching through a safe optimal ROM.
The warm down segment of a program is the best time to improve flexibility or range of motion. Water temperature needs to be greater than 83 F/28.3 C so that muscles may relax and stretch both actively and statically. This requires less vigorous, but sufficient movement to lengthen the muscle. Should the water be cooler candidates will only be able to utilize more active mobility ( and in this case they should be wearing more thermal wear to maintain body heat).

We call this end segment a "Warm Down" because it important that the participant stays warm and gets out of the pool while still warm.  Realize - shivering can activate the appetite, so because so many people come to the pool to loose weight, it is counter-productive to send them out of the pool to the nearest donut shop.
For effective active stretching combine low intensity cardiovascular moves with Intermittent stretching. Train to release tension with fun, light-hearted communication or mind/body movements

If water temperature is too cool, omit any static positions at the end of the program. Also when working in a cooler pool take time throughout the program to do some active stretches after any strengthening sets, and combine active ROM with cardio sets. This helps improve overall flexibility and you don't have to feel guilty if you cannot do lengthy stretches at the end of the program.  Another point to consider is that adding active stretching during the program makes it safer for anyone who needs to leave the pool before the end of the program.  The stretches at the end are a big plus to reinforce flexibility gains.  Emphasize re-stretching tighter musculature such as low back, hamstrings, Iliopsoas,  calves, gluteals, pectorals, biceps, anterior deltoid, neck.

Sample Warm Down: Stretching

  • Walk backward toe to heel and hold to stretch the calf  sit back into the leg to stretch the soleus before moving to take the next step

  • Walk backwards and let the water lift the leg forward for hamstring muscle groups

  • Walk Forward -bend the knee back as you walk to stretch the quadriceps

  • For hip flexors – stretch the leg back somewhat straighter to open the hip joint  (very important muscle group to stretch.

  • Walk sideways for the adductors - slide the feet out and hold -lift the following foot in

  • Use a cross figure 4 for the abductors or

  • THR - hip lean push out to side for the people with hip replacements.

All upper body muscles may  be stretched actively through the water (use lower body movements  with upper body stretches)

  • Walk with arms out to sides to stretch pectoral, biceps and anterior deltoids

  • Bend arm and place on opposite shoulder place that shoulder in the water and circle forward for triceps and medial deltoids

  • Place arms under water and do a very slow diagonal XC move to stretch Latissimus Dorsi

  • Use the elephant trunk stretch  to reach side to side for the Rhomboids,  this gives gentle massage and relaxation to the muscles around the shoulder joint and thoracic spine area.

  • Add an upper body triceps stretch by touching the back with the same arm (bending the elbow and gently lifting the elbow towards the ceiling while the other arm cradles the arm).

  • An over head reach is a great way to stretch the Latissimus Dorsi and the Obliques.

Be sure as the arms go overhead that a) shake extra water off the hands so the water doesn't drip in the person's face and b) the arms slow down and gently come out of the water to avoid impingement on the shoulders.

If the water is warm and you may utilize more stationary stretching. Try adding some partner stretches with a noodle in between the partners.  (Suggest picking a partner of about the same size and skill level. Cue to hold a noodle lengthways between partners or hold arms to balance the movement.

Check out the library of WaterART DVDs for a variety of programs.  All workout programs have proper and complete warm ups and cool/warm downs.

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