Over the past 30 years, there has been significant research conducted on deep water training. When researching my book, I combed through articles which ran the gamut from testing performed on athletes (i.e., inured jumpers, runners, Olympic professionals) to water fitness for cancer rehabilitations to joint testing for the aging population. Every article I read seriously touted the benefits; I did not find one that stated it was contraindicated. The biggest disclaimer typically came from ‘..more research is needed’ type statements. That just tells me I think I see a PhD in my future (any sponsors??) Additionally, there may have been concerns with certain moves performed or the depth of the water post specific traumas, but all in all, research has proven time and again - this is a method that we should all be using for our own health.
If you want to read a few articles on water training, consider reading this comprehensive article in National Strength and Conditioning Association (2008, Vol. 30, No. 2 and No 3) by Gregory Haff’s called Aquatic Cross Training for Athletes: Part 1 and Part 2. This was leader round table discussing the benefits to deep water training, looking into heart rate differences, ground force trauma in joints, muscle response, and more.
Also consider checking out The Journal of Human Kinetics (2015) Alberton, Pinto, et al. Kinesiological Analysis of Stationary Running Performed in Aquatic and Dryland Environments. Yes, this was a comparison of land and water based training. Research conducted showed how the body will receive up to 85% less joint impact when water training. Think about your land training and joint strains? You would think that less joint trauma means less of a workout, but that isn’t the case. With HIT method training, you work just as hard on land, with muscle strength needed to perform on land, but without the aches.
And, for all of us seniors out there - still striving for the next ultra… and finding yourself on the back of the pack. You need to purchase the book Joel Friel wrote in 2015 called Fast after Fifty: How to Race Strong for the Rest of Your Life. (Velo Press). Aging doesn’t mean we are supposed to train slower and slower; quite the contrary. Speed work is still very much alive and healthy in our training, we just may need a wee bit more recovery sprinkled in there. I think of HIT as a way to get that speed work. You can train hard and have less muscle fatigue.
Why not use it?
And for some recent comprehensive research on how water training helps us ‘aging’ peeps, look into the article by Reichert, Kanitz, Delevatti, et al. Continuous and interval training programs using deep water running improves functional fitness and blood pressure in the older adults (American Aging Association, 2016) or the article by Kanitz, Delavatti, et al. Effects of two deep water training programs on cardiorespiratory and muscular strength responses in older adults. (Experimental Gerontology, 2015). Both excellent starting points to your own reading on the benefits of HIT method training.