Summer is here – and if you’re like me you want to spend as much time as possible outside. My family and I enjoy our time in the water, which got me thinking of all the great exercises that can be done in the pool. Today I want to share with you seven great exercises you can do in the pool that can help several different conditions including arthritis, fibromyalgia, back pain, joint replacements, and balance problems.
Pool exercise have many benefits, including an ideal environment to exercise throughout the year. The buoyancy of the water supports a portion of your body weight which makes it easier to move in the water and improve flexibility. Water also provides resistance to movements which will help you strengthen your muscles. Pool exercises can also improve agility, balance, and cardiovascular fitness.
Before Starting Any Pool Program
As with most things before you start any new program it is best to check with your physical therapist or physician to make sure pool exercises are right for you.
Consider the following before you get started:
– Water shoes will provide traction on the pool floor.
– Water level should be waist or chest high (no higher).
– You can use a styrofoam noodle or floatation belt/vest in deeper water.
– Slow movements provide less resistance than fast movements.
– For increased resistance try using webbed water gloves, styrofoam weights, inflated balls, or kickboards.
– Never push your body through pain during exercises.
– Drink plenty of water.
7 Pool Exercises To Try
1. Water walking or jogging! Start with forward and backward walking in chest or waist high water. Walk 10-20 steps forward – then walk backward – and to make it more difficult you can increase your speed. Another option is to simply jog gently in place for 5 minutes alternating between jogging and walking every 30 second.
2. Forward lunges! The best thing to do if you’re a beginner is to stand near a pool wall for support, then you simply take an oversized lunge step in a forward direction and then return to starting position and repeat with opposite leg. Most important thing to remember is to not let the forward knee advance past the toes – so pay attention to each lunge.
3. One leg balance! All you need to do is for this one is stand on 1 leg while raising the other knee to hip level. For something a little harder you can also place a pool noodle under the raised leg, so the noodle forms a “U” with your foot in the center of the U. Hold the position for up to 30 seconds then switch legs and repeat. Try to get in at least 1-2 sets of 5 on each leg.
4. Sidestepping! This one is easy – just face the pool wall and take sideways steps with your body and toes facing the wall. Try doing 10-20 steps (if you have room) in 1 direction and then return. Repeat twice and you’re done.
5. Hip kickers at pool wall! Start by standing with the pool wall to one side of your body for support, then move 1 leg in a forward direction with the knee straight like you are kicking. Return to start, then move the same leg to the side, and return to the start again. Lastly, move that same leg behind you, and bring back to start again. Do at least 3 sets of 10 and switch to your other leg.
6. Deep water bicycle! This one requires deeper water (and require the flotation devices mentioned earlier). With this one you need to loop 1-2 noodles around the back of your body and rest your arms on top of the noodle for support in the water. Then all you do is move your legs as if you are riding a bicycle – do this for for 3-5 minutes.
7. Standing knee lift! For this one you need to stand against the pool wall with both feet on the floor and lift 1 knee up like you are marching in place. While the knee is lifted even with your hip, straighten your knee. Continue to bend and straighten your knee 10 times, and then repeat on the other leg. Try to get in at least complete 3 sets of 10 on each leg. For more of a challenge, try this exercise without standing against the pool wall (it will help with balance).
There you have it – seven great exercises that you can do while you’re in the pool this summer. As I mentioned before it is best to consult a physical therapist before doing anything, so if you’re unsure whether these are okay for you to do give us a call and we can do a complete work-up and let you know. We can be reached at 201-585-7300, or you can fill out our contact us form online.