Aqua Jogging for Injury Prevention

Make a Splash this Summer!

Aqua jogging: It is not just “punishment” for injured runners attempting to rehab their way back to pounding the pavement again.  When done correctly, it can be a valuable cross training tool and possibly even a form of “hydro-massage.”

When I was a college track athlete at Clemson University, we used to aqua jog in the diving pool and perfect running form drills on our off day each week. As a former college coach, I always added in aqua jogging days as a second workout option in the afternoon after a harder morning interval or tempo workout.  For my own training now, I believe in the value of one day a week of aqua jogging or swimming (or both) as a non-impact aerobic workout, or after hard workouts to aide in recovery.

If you are new to aqua jogging, or just need a change in your routine as the summer months are upon us, I’d like to share a few pointers and basic workouts with you.

  • Purchase an aqua jogging or water belt to keep you afloat. I used to believe that it was better to run in the water without the belt, as it felt like a much harder workout; however, form was compromised as it became more like treading water or doggy paddling, instead of executing proper running mechanics.  These belts aren’t too costly.
  • Locate a short bungee cord. I prefer the type with the coated rubber hooks on each end.  This cord will be attached to the lane line in the deepest end of the pool or to the hook where the lane line attaches, while the other end will be attached to strap located on the back of the water belt.  It will anchor you in place.  I’ve had to get creative in pools where these options weren’t available and tether around a ladder or hook into a drain.  Tethering allows for correct posture and technique while leaving more room available for swimmers.
  • Get some good tunes and a waterproof speaker or iPod or a buddy! Aqua jogging, while it may be beneficial, can get to be a bit monotonous, especially since you’ll be running in place (expect a few stares from others at first).  It can help to break up the tempo of your routine a bit if you upload some of your favorite fast beats or even a podcast.

Sample Workouts:

  • Pyramid – Warm-up 15 minutes steady. 4 mins. on, 1 min. off, 3 mins. on, 1 min. off, 2 mins. on, 1 min. off, 1 min. on, 1 min. off.  11 mins. cool-down easy.
  • Fartlek – Simulate any running workout you’d planned to do with the equivalent in timed intervals. For example, if you were going to warm-up one mile, then aqua jog for 8-10 minutes, followed by the times it would have taken you to run (approximately) for your given distances.  So, a 400m/200m workout with 400’s at 6:00 mile pace and 200’s at 8:00 mile pace would be the equivalent of reps of 90 seconds on/1:00 off.  Repeat as many times as necessary.
  • Steady-state run – A good rule of thumb if you are substituting aqua jogging for a scheduled run, plan to double your timed efforts, i.e. a 30 minute run would equal one hour in the pool aqua jogging at a steady pace.


  • Knee up, toe up, head up (neutral spine).
  • Keep your arms active (as in running).
  • Beware of the tendency to start leaning forward from the torso. Keep your core engaged.


Julie Stackhouse Aqua Jogging from 904Fitness on Vimeo.

Julie Stackhouse

Julie Stackhouse

Julie Stackhouse is a USATF Certified Level I and II Instructor in multiple event areas. She's coached Division I collegiate cross country and track & field teams for over a decade before making personal training a full-time pursuit. Her entire life has been devoted to health and fitness, obtaining both a bachelors and masters degrees in Health and Exercise Science while competing as a scholarship athlete at Furman University. Julie's passion is sharing her expertise in the field, training individuals from novice to elite, youth to masters to achieve their personal bests, no matter their fitness goals!

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