Dealing with injuries is one of the most frustrating things that fitness enthusiasts can deal with, especially for those involved in endurance sports. Even a week off from training can leave the athlete feeling out of shape. The athlete has to be also to be careful not to jump back in too fast or there is the possibility of re-injury. So what can you do if you get hurt and are not able to run or cycle as you are used to? One great way to deal with almost injury is to jump in a pool.
If you are an endurance athlete and are used to running or cycling long distances, a lower extremity injury like a sprained ankle or knee will severely limit your ability to train. Even if you can still run or cycle, you risk further damage and even more time off from your sport. Studies have proven that the best way to recover from an injury is active rehabilitation. This means that when you are able, you need to train on the injury in such a way that you do not do further damage. A great way to do this, especially for lower extremity injuries, is in a pool.
The buoyancy of the water in a pool holds your body up so that even when using the same running motion you are only able to put a small amount of weight on your legs. For example, if you have a sprained ankle and are having a hard time walking on it, you will have a much easier time walking on it in a pool. So how do you go about rehabbing a sprained ankle in a pool?
If the injury is so bad that you cannot put any weight on the ankle at all, then just swim laps. Swimming laps does not require you to put any pressure on your ankle, but it is a great cardiovascular exercise that will keep you in shape until you are ready to start actively rehabbing your foot. Even as you are rehabbing your foot, you should swim laps to keep your endurance level up.
Depending on the extent of the sprain, get into the pool and head toward the depth that takes the proper amount of weight off of your feet. You should utilize a depth that allows only your head to stay out of the water if the injury feels really bad. As it starts to feel better, you can head towards the shallower end. Once in the proper depth, put a little weight on your injured foot and just walk. Go gently and stop any time you feel too much pain to continue. Start with small steps and little pressure. As it gets better, you can put more weight on it and take longer steps.
As the ankle begins to feel better, you can start trying to run in the water. The water will provide a natural level of resistance that keeps you from moving too fast so you will still not be able to put much pressure on the injury. As with the walking, start in deeper water and move towards the shallower end as you feel better. One good guideline is to stay at a depth where your knees are not able to break the surface of the water as you run.
Sprained ankles are a very frustrating injury for endurance athletes. They can take a long time to heal and can keep you from training the way that you are used to, which not only makes your endurance level suffer but makes it that much harder to get back in shape when you are able to train again. You can help speed up the healing process by working it out in a pool. You can also swim laps to maintain your endurance level while waiting for the injury to heal.
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