How Deep Water Running Works

Deep Water Run Training

The AquaJogger® buoyancy belt gives you core strengthening and vertical lift while evenly distrubiting buoyancy.
The AquaJogger® buoyancy belt gives you core strengthening and vertical lift while evenly distrubiting buoyancy.

Deep water running is easy -- you just get in the pool and start moving, mimicking the same basic motions you would if you were jogging along your neighborhood trail. You must remember a few specific techniques, though, because it's natural to forget at first that you're supposed to be running, not swimming:

  • Stay tall in the water, keeping your body straight up and down.
  • Pull your knees up higher than you would when jogging -- to about hip height -- and slightly point your toes.
  • Swing your arms from the shoulder, keeping them bent at about 90 degrees.
  • Keep the palms of your hands closed or turned inward; you want them to slice through the water, not cup it.

Jogging with the added resistance of water can take some getting used to, but with practice, it will begin to feel as natural as running on dry land. Water provides this extra resistance because of its viscosity. Water is vastly more viscous than air, meaning it's much harder to move out of the way. This viscosity allows you to boost the intensity of your workout. If you're anxious about starting a new exercise program without the proper expertise, numerous books, videos and websites can help. You may even find an organized deep water running class at your local gym or rec center.

Many deep water runners, especially those just starting out, use a buoyancy or flotation device of some kind. Devotees claim they help keep you from leaning in the water, so you can focus on getting your heart rate up rather than staying upright. Without a buoyancy belt, you might also have a tendency to tilt your head back, which can cause a stiff neck. You can wear a life vest when deep water running, but it tends to limit your workout by restricting upper body movement.

Another tool sometimes used in deep water running, particularly among more advanced participants, is a tether connecting your flotation device to the side of the pool. Anchoring yourself to a fixed position provides even greater resistance, because you're essentially running away from the edge of the pool.

Continue reading to learn how deep water running can help you recover from injury.