All About Aqua Jogging: AQX Aquatic Shoes, Underwater Mp3 Players, Speedo Belt, and a Workout!

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Recently, I’ve been plagued with an injury while preparing to race the Ironman World Championship of triathlon in Kona, Hawaii. The injury is called “IT Band Friction Syndrome” and requires low-impact or non-weight bearing exercise to maintain fitness until the knee is pain-free (alternative, highly non-attractive option is to run through the pain and destroy your knee forever).

We’re talking about creating, non-traditional methods to maintain peak aerobic fitness without causing damage to an injury. Research has shown that non-impact water exercise offers this benefit, and this activity is utilized by quite a few pro triathletes and marathoners. Consequently, at my triathlon training and racing blog (http://bengreenfieldtri.blogspot.com), I have quite a few workout entries that include the term “Aqua Jogging”. So what exactly is aqua jogging (AKA water running)  and how do you do it?

There are two different types of aqua jogging: 1) running in a deep water where you cannot touch bottom of pool; 2) running in shallow water with feet touching bottom of pool.

The first method of aqua jogging is the “non-impact” version that I highly recommend and that I will introduce in this post. The second version is relatively low-impact when compared to running, but can still cause pain in the knees during the initial stages of something like an IT band injury.

Non-impact aqua jogging requires a few different pieces of equipment:

AQX Aquatic Training Shoes

1) Aquatic Shoes. I wear the AQX Aquatic Training shoe (pictured left). With strategically placed vents and fins,these shoes allow you to achieve 2-3x the cardiovascular intensity when compared to simply running in your bare feet. Trust me, I also tried wearing an old pair of running shoes and they were soggy, heavy, and very non-fluid. They actually hurt the knee. These shoes make it so easy to actually get your heart rate up and keep it there, which for me was one of the more frustrating aspects of water jogging before I started wearing them. In bare feet, you have to pump…and pump…and pump the legs at a very high turnover to achieve any type of training effect heart rate. The shoes fix this, and providing resistance, flow impedance, and increased muscular recruitment.

2) Flotation Belt. Some pools actually have these available, typically somewhere near to the pull buoys and kickboards. I personally use the Speedo swim belt (pictured below), which is comfortable and doesn’t leave the little rubbing marks and blisters on my stomach like some of the belts at the pool. A belt is a must, since you must ensure that a part of your torso is above the water or you will spend too much energy attempting to stay afloat.

3. Tunes. In my opinion, audio is a must, since there’s not much to look at while aqua jogging (although I have been tempted to bring all my aqua jogging gear to a local lake on a sunny day…). Here is what I do:

-take a small sandwich ziplock bag

-drop an mp3 player inside the bag

-thread the headphones out the top of the bag

-seal the bag

-then affix the bag to the side of my head with my goggles strap

This homemade solution works pretty well. Another option is an actual underwater mp3 player. The newest one on the market, the Nu Technology 2 GB Waterproof MP3 Player is pretty cool because you can also use it while freestyle swimming, and it doesn’t actually mess with the audio quality like some of the other brands.

I would consider Nu Technology the cadillac of underwater mp3 players. But check out this link for a wide range of other waterproof/underwater mp3 players.

OK, now you’ve got all your gear and you’re ready to aqua jog! Let’s make sure your form is sound – the last thing you want to do is explain to your friends that you pulled a muscle running in the water! The AQX Aquatic Training shoes include a DVD that teaches proper form for regular deep water running, deep water cross-country skiing, and shallow water plyometrics/running drills.

Here’s the basics of proper deep-water running form:

-Lean forward.

-Bring the knees up towards the chest and kick back through full range of motion, exactly as you would when running, but slightly more exaggerated. Imagine you’re running up a steep hill.

-Pump the arms vigorously, but leave the fists closed.

-Avoid a straight up-and-down posture with a piston like up-and-down movement of the legs. This is more like bicycling, and won’t stimulate the running muscles as much as leaning forward and kicking through the range of motion.

-And yes, for those of you wondering, you can jog in a stationary space, but it is more interesting and beneficial to actually move forward, such as down and back in a lap lane.

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Finally, let’s look at a sample workout for aqua jogging. This workout offers multiple benefits – it works on running form, intensity, and muscular strength:

5 minute warm-up (i.e. 3 laps running)

1 HARD exaggerated running effort at max capacity for 1 length of the pool, then easy jog back

1 HARD “heel-to-butt” kick effort for 1 length of the pool, then easy jog back

1 HARD “high-knees-running” effort  (knees come all the way up to chest), then jog back

1 HARD “cross-country ski” effort (straight legs, straight arms), then jog back

Repeat these HARD efforts as a circuit, going 2, 3, or 4 times through. Workout time will range from 15-30 minutes, depending on how many circuits you perform. Cool-down jog for 5 minutes.

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And that’s it. The beauty of aqua jogging is that it can be intense, but very forgiving on the body because of it’s non-impact nature. If your form is good, you can perform hard aqua jogging workouts on consecutive days and maintain fitness, VO2 max, and lactate threshold without risk of overtraining or injury.

So get out there and hit the pool for a great winter cross-training workout!

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31 thoughts on “All About Aqua Jogging: AQX Aquatic Shoes, Underwater Mp3 Players, Speedo Belt, and a Workout!

  1. You say running posture should be a lean forward, while other sites say posture should be straight and avoid leaning….which way is the right way and more effective

  2. I'm curious as to how Aqua Jogging would be for recovering from a pretty bad (but not broken or fractured) ankle injury? I was thinking it might still be too much given the tendency for the water to push back at various angles on the ankle, but maybe not… or at least maybe at least it would be ok as a way to slowly reintroduce running once the ankle is further along, but not necessarily as a way to stay fit while the ankle is still pretty beat up?

  3. Okay, seriously. This is the first time I've ever heard of aqua jogging. It sounds kind of like torture to me. But, it would be funny watch.:) I mean no offense and I'm sure it's a wonderfully useful low impact activity. I'm also interested to know there are underwater m3ps.

  4. i have some achilles tendon inflamation (100m rocky trail ultramarathon, followed three weeks later by a 50m rocky trail ultramarathon) in both legs. i wanted to explore the option of aqua jogging so that i dont lose any fitness and give my achilles time to "heel" (pun intended). i have a 100k in Jan and another 100m in Feb, so i need to maintain. what type of aqua jogging workouts would you recommend for endurance/distance runners? have you evered row (to maintain & avoid impact)? while i know you arent a doctor, what are your thoughts?

    1. I prefer quality over quantity for aqua jogging. For runners, a sample session I prescribe would be 5 minute jog warmup, 20×30 second sprints with 60 second jog recoveries, then a cooldown.

  5. I have a broken sesamoid bone in my left foot. I chiro and trainer have suggested I do aqua jogging to alow the foot to heal and still stay fitt enough to compete in my two goal races this year. I run Ultra Marathons though, with a minimum of 80km per week for training. My two major races are 56km in April and 89km in June. Are these workouts long enough to maintain that kind of aerobic fitness…?

  6. THE TOP PART OF MY FOOT IS GETTING REALY BADLY CHAFFED TO THE POINT THAT I STOPPED WEARING THE SHOES..I RUN EVERYDAY FOR ANYWHERE FROM 45-120 MINUTES.ANY SUGGESTIONS ? I HAVE APPLIED VASOLINE…OH AND EVEN THOUGH I AM RUNNING IN A POOL AND RINSE THEM THEY SMEEL HORRIBLE. DO SPRAY FEBREEZE ON THEM.

  7. For all you older ladies out there … I got into water jogging while on a cruise and couldn't find a free treadmill, so I wrapped my iPod in a towel, hopped in the pool with iPod on the deck and jogged for an hour. Amazing results: felt fully exercised and refreshed afterward .. And the hair stayed unmussed. When I got home I found on the web H20Audio who sold waterproof iPod cases. Changed my life. Water jogging = 650 calories/hr – lost 20#s and became quite a celebrity at the health club. I stay in one place with my feet touching the bottom – water over my chest jog to the beat of the music ( you need rock I.e. "Footloose" is a good one) and just jog as fast as I can. Try it ~you'll like it.

    1. Hi Maggie! I am older as well, I will be 52 next month. I was completely sedentary with a knee injury, and in need of a healthy lifestyle. I started aqua jogging on 6 months ago, 4 times a week for 30 minutes. This has been amazing! It is fun, relaxing, and I feel so much better. I have lost inches everywhere, my clothes are all too big on me and I have real muscles! I am stronger, happer and looking for more ways to make this even better. I started in "Deep Water" and my gym closed so the next pool only went up to 4 1/2 feet so I stay in the deep end. I think as my 6 month present, I'm going to add water shoes. I'm very excited! This changed my life. I can't say enough about Aqua Jogging, and I am so pleased to see it has a name!

        1. Thanks! I've always used the webbed gloves and those really increase resistance. I run with my hands slightly open so the gloves catch the water with each step. I really feel the difference in my arms. Thanks for bringing this to more people's attention.

  8. PS Music? I use regular earbuds and an iPod shuffle. I wrap the wires around my head and clip the iPod into a bandana.

    Jessica H.

  9. I sustained a meniscal injury a couple of months back and the doctor adviced a non surgical treatment. He put me on knee strengthening. Is it safe for me to do deep water. Aqua jogging?

      1. Thank u so much for the reply, Ben!

        The mri says I have a lax acl too. And my knee hurts only when I run or jump. Its fine when I walk..I don’t feel the pain at all. But I can’t think of NOT exercising.

        Is it okay to aqua jog, or will I be ruining my knee?

        -Divya

  10. I am at a loss as to why deep water jogging is preferred over just jogging in place with feet touching. I would think that more calories are expended – maybe your core gets more of a workout – but couldn't be that much different. I can run fairly fast in chest deep water for over an hour and feel great – not tired. Have ipod music on a waterproof device. I've been doing this for years, but can't seem to find much support for this great exercise.

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