Benefits of the Magical Properties of Water

A. Positive Effects of Buoyancy: A Summary 

  1. Buoyancy decreases the effects of gravity on movement: An individual who weighs 70 kg on land will weigh about 7 kg in neck deep water. Populations who have load bearing difficulty on land (including obese, frail elderly, arthritic, disabled, injured, and women in the childbearing year, athletes who have been overtraining on land, people with other kinds of painful joint disorders) will exercise in relative comfort and ease in the water.

  2. Decreased gravity results in decreased joint loading: When the bones within a joint are not forced together by gravity, the joint may have slightly increased range of motion and movement comfort. CALA vertical water training exercises using “The Charlene Kopansky Method” are designed to encourage full range of motion. The benefits of this include increased joint mobility and resistance to joint injury.

  3. The force of buoyancy assists venous return: On land, the downward force of gravity pushes the blood toward the feet. The cardiovascular system must work against gravity to return blood to the heart. In the water, the up-thrust of buoyancy counteracts the downward pull of gravity, assisting venous return. This will contribute to lower exercise heart rates during vertical aquatic training, however this does not imply that the training effect is lower.

B. Positive Effects of Hydrostatic Pressure (HP): A Summary

  1. Venous return and cardiac function are greatly enhanced by HP during vertical water training.

  2. HP assists participants to exercise more vigorously with less strain on the cardiovascular system and a reduced training heart rate for a given level of exertion (as compared to land exercise). This does not imply that the training effect is lower.

  3. HP reduces swelling of injured or edematous (swollen) joints or limbs below the water. This effect is enhanced with greater depth of immersion.

  4. The pressure of water on the chest wall creates a training effect for the respiratory muscles. This pressure may be excessive for people with poor respiratory health and /or  compromised respiratory system.

C. Positive Effects of Turbulence: A Summary

  1. Currents and eddies in the water massage the skin, promoting circulation, relaxation and increased pain tolerance.

  2. Turbulence contributes to the resistance felt in aquatic exercise (see Coefficient of Drag, PD equation, Resistance earlier in this chapter).

  3. The core muscles become stronger as participants learn to stabilize their bodies against turbulence.

  4. Balance is challenged and trained by turbulence.

  5. Exercises can be designed to work with or against turbulence, thereby increasing or decreasing intensity.

  6. Turbulence enhances venous return thus lowering the exercise heart rate as compared to the same exercise intensity on land. This does not imply a lower training effect.

D. Positive Effects of Thermal Conductivity: A Summary

For all of the following points, it is assumed that vertical water training is being conducted in the appropriate water temperature.

  1. The water “wicks” away excess body heat during VWT using the “Charlene Kopansky Method”, creating a cool, comfortable environment for vigorous exercise.

  2. Blood that would be shunted to the skin for cooling (on land) is available to the working muscles when exercising in water.

  3. The heart does not have to work as hard as it does on land to assist with thermoregulation of the working body.

  4. Pool temperatures can be altered to meet the needs of special groups, from rehabilitation (31° to 37°C / 88° to 98°F), to intense athletic training (around 27°C).

E. Positive Effects of Water‟s Resistance: A Summary

  1. Pressure Drag: The force and energy required to move through water develops muscle and bone strength as well as cardiovascular and muscular endurance. Remember that the resistance of water will only be effective if limbs are kept under the water when moving.

  2. Accommodation: By changing hand / foot configuration, lever lengths, speed or range of motion, the work done during vertical water exercise is readily altered to suit a variety of participant needs.

  3. Multidirectional Resistance: Resistance to movement in all directions fosters balanced muscle usage and training. VWT can be classified in a category of “All Gain, No Pain”, according to fellow aqua enthusiast, Irene Wallin, formerly of H2Oz, Australia. Water accommodates all levels of fitness.

  4. Action-Reaction Forces (Newton.s Third Law): When proper alignment and movement technique are taught and maintained in vertical water training, many muscle groups must be recruited to stabilize the body. These challenges ultimately develop coordination (an essential component of fitness) as they increase core strength and stability.

  5. Dampening Effect: Movements are slower and less likely to be jerky in water.

In short, you are getting a complete overall full body workout, without the impact to your joints, you won’t get hot, you won’t get nearly as winded, the risk of DOMS ( the muscle soreness the next day) is greatly reduced, and you are having fun! You have an effective way to get a complete overall workout without feeling like you have.

There are so many benefits to exercising in water that it is worth the ‘first day of kindergarten’ feeling you may experience because you are learning how to use your body effectively without the normal stresses that gravity and exertion normally put us through.