One of the best ways to get your walking or gait pattern back after an injury is aquatic gait exercises. Walking in the water not only takes away some of gravity, but it also allows you to concentrate on getting your correct pattern back. It is a great way to get a workout without a lot of impact on your joints. These gait exercises are a good warm-up before you do an aquatic therapy workout.
It is really important to make sure you have good posture when you are in the pool. It is really easy to move your upper body a lot, but you want to try to keep your upper body straight and upright. Squeeze in your abdominals to help keep that upright position. Using ankle weights can be very beneficial. Not only do they give you some extra resistance, but they also keep your feet on the ground while doing the exercises.
To start off, simply walk forward. Concentrate on a heel to toe walking. When we walk on land, our heels hit first and we roll onto and push off with our toes. Exaggerate this movement while you walk while keeping that upright posture. Then reverse it and go backwards. Now your toes are going to hit first and roll back onto your heels. Try not to lean back when you are doing this, and keep your body upright.
Next, turn sideways. When you step, it is important to keep your toes pointed forward. If you turn your foot out when you step, you are changing the muscles being worked. Finally, march by bringing your knee up toward the surface of the water getting a bend in your knee and hip. Really try to drive your knee upward to get a good stretch. Again, don’t lean forward, try to keep your body upright.
Depending on how fast you go, these should take you between 5-10 minutes and is used as a warm-up to your exercises.
Always use CAUTION with Exercising in a Pool: If you can’t swim, don’t do these exercises unless there is a certified lifeguard on duty. Working out in a pool can be very deceiving. Many times you will feel great while in the pool because gravity is taken away. It feels easy and you want to do a lot, but always start at a baseline. If you have not performed aquatic exercises before, you have to let your body adapt to it no matter what your fitness level. Pool workouts should only start at about 40 minutes, and you shouldn’t be in the pool longer than an hour especially if it is a heated pool. Don’t let the water fool you!