After all these years, I didn’t even consider this! It wasn’t until last week that I found out how much of a healer water really is. (For water stretches like the ones described in this post, please see link below at Livestrong.com).
The mild weather outside, the extra pounds I put on over the winter, the advent of spring, a newfound appreciation for good health once again after pneumonia—any and all of these have given me motivation for pushing myself just a little bit more lately. But pushing oneself physically can have its drawbacks; it can result in injury. The danger of pain in a joint, leg muscle, or foot is that it can take several days to weeks of staying away from exercises that use those injured areas for it to heal. In fact, last week, after trying spinning class for the first time, we ambitiously decided to run a mile to stretch out the muscles used in spinning. It was such nice weather that we just kept running and talking. We ended up running over three miles after doing spinning! By nightfall, I knew that was a mistake. My hip was making walking difficult—not something I can afford with four children running afoot! I had overdone it.
The next day, when the “Tri-It Girls” started making plans for the day, my hip felt a bit better from rest. I said I’d meet up and run a little bit, but I’d go slow. One of the girls mentioned a quick water jogging opportunity afterwards. We agreed to try it, of course! However, in the back of my mind, I knew that if anything started to hurt in my hip, I would bail out of it. I grabbed my bathing suit, met up with the girls, and ran four very slow miles. As my hip warmed up, it seemed to loosen, but I was worried about what would happen when we stopped running and even later on, when it had cooled down.
My hip still warm, I put on a water belt and jumped into the water jogging mini-class, hoping my hip wouldn’t seize up. We started to do quick movements that mimic jogging up and down the lanes (you can’t use your hands to help, so this is pretty active for your legs), then we started to do large “monster bicycle” movements. The participant pretends that they are riding a very large wheeled monster bicycle. Immediately, I felt a great stretch in my hip. There is no way that I could get that big of a stretch in land-stretching, but in the water, my body was weightless; I could stretch better. We had to repeat this monster bicycle ride all the way up the lane and back. After our water workout of 30 minutes, we continued to stretch our weightless legs and arms against the side of the pool in a way that we could not be flexible on dry land. Our more experienced running friend (who provided this opportunity) explained that very recent research is showing that when people push themselves, have an injury, or even just take a long run, getting into the water and swimming a little bit then stretching for a good long time has shown a tremendous healing effect on the body. She wanted to try it. I couldn’t agree more with her research!
That evening, my hip, though a little tender, was fine. I could walk. I could tend to my house, errands, children, all the busy adventures of the day. Today, three days later, I ran six miles for the first time in months and it felt great. But tomorrow, I am soooooo going in the water!
If you want to try stretching in the water after your workout and see if it has the same benefit for you, I found some great stretches at Livestrong.com: http://www.livestrong.com/article/374571-water-therapy-and-hip-stretches/. Let me know what you think!