USING THE 'POOL' AS AN AID IN INJURY RECOVERY OR AS A RESTORATION/RECOVERY DAY DURING NORMAL TRAINING
HYDROTHERAPY/HYDROTRAINING BASICS: On the therapy side, the swimming pool is an excellent place to train during recovery. It is possible to do aerobic/anaerobic training sessions without stressing the injury. Anything from a hamstring pull to Plantar Fasciitis can be 'nursed' while the body is being worked. As an alternate to the normal training session, almost anything that is done on the track can be done in the pool. The muscles can be loaded without having the associated impact stresses and trauma. The athlete can do anything from a high intensity cardiovascular interval workout to a continuous minimal lactate recovery day. The training sessions should follow the athletes overall periodization plan.
WARMING UP: The pool workout is no different than a track workout. A five to ten minute warm-up should be done prior to starting the basic training session. Moving around in the water and while dynamically stretching all of the muscles to get flexibility into the body. Stretch and flex the arms, legs, toes, back, shoulders---move everything that will move. If a swimmer, add a couple of pool lengths to the warm-up. As on the track, get flexible while raising the pulse rate/body temperature a bit. The warm-up is usually best accomplished in the shallow end of the pool. This will allow the feet to contact the bottom of the pool while doing the flexibility/stretching drills. Most of the normal 'land based' drills such as 'A' and 'B' drills and hurdle drills can be done in the pool.
AEROBIC TRAINING SESSIONS: As on the track or road, these are sessions in the 20 to 40 minute time frame with an intensity of from 70 to 85%. It can be performed by either swimming or by 'jogging' around the pool while wearing an 'aqua jogger' type vest that will keep the body vertical in the pool. Shoes can be worn to increase the running resistance. Most pulse monitors are waterproof, so they can be used during these sessions to monitor and control their intensity. To simulate the track workout, it is important to use the legs in a running type motion while in the water.
ANAEROBIC TRAINING SESSIONS: As in 'normal' track training sessions, anaerobic pool sessions get a bit more demanding, but fundamentally they are the same. It is possible to do either anaerobic intervals or anaerobic circuits in the pool. To do these, the athlete should use a tether and a vest to keep the body stationary and vertical while working in the deep water. The tether allows an increase in activity while working against resistance. The load/resistance can be increased by wearing special swim shoes and/or using hand weights. The work/recovery times for intervals and the rest between sets should be similar to that done in track training.
Ladder workouts (30 sec. on/30 sec. recovery; 60 sec. on/60 sec. recovery; 90 sec. on--etc) are great pool anaerobic sessions. To do a circuit session, vertical jumps, single leg hops, discus spins, shot put glides, skip-kicks, etc., can be added to the session. These should be done in chest deep water where some foot gripping on the bottom of the pool is available.
STRENGTH/POWER SESSIONS: The water provides the basic resistance to body movement, but an exercise band or hand weights can be added to increase the resistance. High knees, quick legs, lunges, lunges, jump-squats or ins & outs can be done while working in the shallower water. When doing a static exercise using hand weights or an exercise band, the loaded position should be held for at least 25 seconds.
POOL TRAINING EQUIPMENT: There are a number of devices available for use in pool training. There are several different vests available such as the Aqua Jogger, in the $30 to $40 price range. These allow you to remain vertical in deep water and are the most important piece of equipment. Additionally, there are tethers ($10-$20), water hand weights ($25/pair), exercise bands ($5-$10) and special water shoes ($25/pair). Clubs should consider purchasing a set of these and making them available to members on an as needed basis.