Sunday, 21 October 2012

Water Training for Soccer

Some form of rest is often the treatment recommendation for an injured athlete. The rest may be relative rest, in which the athlete reduces the intensity of training or activity, or it may be absolute rest, during which the athlete performs no activity. In either case, rest for an athlete can be problematic. The research of Coyle et al. (1986 and 1984) showed that a significant decline in cardiovascular fitness can result from as little as 3 week of inactivity. A 14 to 16% decline in maximal oxygen consumption has been documented after 6 week of rest (Coyle et al., 1986 and 1984). Given that 3 to 6 week is not an inordinately long period and certainly within the realm of the time needed for recovery from a musculo-skeletal injury, the loss of cardiovascular fitness needs to be considered. An athlete may rehabilitate an acute injury only to find that he or she returns to the sport with a significant loss of conditioning. Fortunately, the aquatic environment can help to mitigate some, if not all, of the potential fitness loss.

Exercise in water
Hydrotherapy forms an important element in restoring normal function in injured skeletal muscle. The water provides resistance to the motion of the limb involved without imposing a weight-bearing load upon it. The body is buoyed up in water and so exercise in this medium has little risk of incurring injury.

   Trainers have exploited the buoyant properties of water for athletic conditioning purposes. Running in the shallow end of the swimming pool can be of value for increasing muscle strength. The individual may also be connected to a harness linked to the coach at poolside. In this tethered position he/she attempts to run away from the coach and goes through a brief period of running on the spot. The exercise is geared towards improving the ability to accelerate over a short distance.
   Swimming is best considered purely as a recreational activity for soccer players. Nevertheless exercise in water can have value particularly on recovery days. The whole team can be engaged and a modification of water polo games introduced for enjoyment. One limitation is that non-swimmers cannot be fully involved although they can participate in water-based exercise by wearing buoyancy aids. Deep-water running
Deep-water running can introduce novelty into the training programme of
players. It is performed in a deep hydrotherapy pool or in the deep end of a
swimming pool. The individual tries to simulate the normal running action used in land whilst wearing a buoyancy vest to assist flotation. Due to bio-mechanical differences between running in water and on land, a definite attempt must be made to keep the hips pushed forward in order to maintain good posture.This training modality is used as a means of preventing injury, in promoting recovery from strenuous exercise and as a form of supplementary training for cardiovascular fitness.

  As the feet do not touch the floor of the pool, impact is avoided and the risk
of injury to the lower limbs eliminated. The added buoyancy while performing
deep-water running has the potential to decrease the compressive forces on the spine that are evident during running on land. Dowzer et al. (1998) reported that, while participants exercised at 80% of mode-specific V.O2 peak, spinal shrinkage was less during deep-water running than treadmill running as a result of reduced axial loading on the vertebral column. Running in deep water will enable individuals to reduce impact loading while maintaining training intensity.

   Deep-water running can also accelerate the recovery process after matches or after strenuous training. In particular the recovery of muscle strength after
stretch-shortening exercise designed to induce muscle soreness was accelerated compared to treadmill running (Reilly et al., 2003a). It was concluded that deep-water running is effective in temporarily relieving soreness while enhancing the process of recovery. The temporary relief of muscle soreness allows training to be continued at a time that training on land would be uncomfortable. The physiological responses to exercise in water and in air differ largely due to the hydro-static effect of water on the body in deep-water running. There are changes in blood compartments, cardiovascular responses, pulmonary and renal function that have been reviewed by Reilly et al. (2003b). Briefly, the heart rate is reduced by reflex action immediately on immersion. Both stroke volume and cardiac output increase during water immersion: an increase in blood volume largely offsets the cardiac decelerating reflex at rest. At sub-maximal exercise intensities, blood lactate responses to exercise during deep-water running are elevated in comparison to treadmill running at a given oxygen uptake (V.O2). While V.O2, minute ventilation and heart rate are decreased under maximal exercise conditions in the water, deep-water running can nevertheless be justified as providing an adequate stimulus for cardiovascular training.

Responses to training programmes have confirmed the efficacy of deep-water running, although positive responses are most evident when measured in a water-based test. Aerobic performance is maintained with deep-water running for up to 6 weeks in trained endurance athletes; sedentary individuals benefit more than athletes in improving maximal oxygen uptake. There is some limited evidence of improvement in anaerobic measures and in upper-body strength in individuals engaging in deep-water running.
   As deep-water running is safe, it is suitable for a range of soccer-playing
populations. It may be used by recreational and veteran players and has a role also in the regimen of professional players.

  • Try to simulate your normal running style.
  • Don't 'paddle'- Keep a loosely closed fist and let your legs move you forward.
  • Try to let the bottoms of your feet to kick the water behind you.
  •  Take short, quick strides. A fast cadence intensifies the workout.
  • Expect a lower stride cadence. Remember water is more resistant than air and your pace will decrease accordingly.
  • Your heart rate will be about 10 percent lower than at the same intensity on land.
It may take some practice to get the hang of water running, but if you concentrate on your form, just as you would while running on land, you should pick it up quickly.

Book: Science of Training Soccer by Thomas Reilly
Topic: Alternative training methods.
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