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.
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
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.
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
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.