Deep Water Running is upright paddling in water too deep to touch the bottom, while wearing a floatation belt to help you remain buoyant. If you haven’t tried it yet, you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s very easy and exclusively for the elderly or heavily pregnant. But this unique form of exercise can be extremely challenging given the right approach, and should be utilised by so many more people. The resistance generated from moving in water creates a unique environment where you can challenge your muscles and cardiovascular system, all the while eliminating the impact on your joints.

It’s no surprise, therefore, that it is a favourite for physiotherapists, sports doctors and orthopaedic surgeons alike in the management of many of our patients. Here are some conditions and situations where you should seriously consider this mode of exercise:


Once your wounds have healed and risk of infection is gone, the pool is a fantastic place to start moving without aggravating your condition. This is particularly true for lower limb operations to the ankle, knee and hip, and spinal operations – particularly to the lower back. Upper limb injuries can also participate but further along their recovery process.


This might be one of the first and only things you can do once your specialist has cleared you for rehab after a fracture, and in some situations, you can do it even in the acute stages after the injury. This is not true for upper limb fractures, but certainly for those of the lower limb and spine.

Acute injuries – particularly spinal and lower limb

After suffering from a significant back injury, particularly to the lumbar and thoracic region, a lot of people cannot engage in their normal sport or exercise due to pain. The pool tends to be the exception, as the buoyancy unloads the spine but the swift movement through the water engages their core muscles. The pool can provide a much needed break from the stationary bike for our patients with acute injuries to their feet, knees and hips. My regular feedback from injured athletes is their joy at being able to do something that “makes them puffed” for the first time in a long time, without hurting them in the process.

“Prehabilitation” – preparation for an operation

If you are scheduled for surgery, engaging in exercise beforehand that doesn’t aggravate your condition can improve your recovery and post-operative outcomes. If you are unable to engage in your usual form of exercise, the pool can be a great place to get yourself as fit and strong as possible before your operation.

If you think Deep Water Running might be for you, come and see one of the team at Healthzone Physiotherapy. While it is excellent for a wide array of people and conditions, there are some people who should avoid it, or get some one-on-one sessions before doing it by themselves. Once you are well established and loving it, our very own Kiri Price runs Deep Water Running classes at the National Aquatic Centre. She provides varying levels of difficulty for novices to athletes, and she has taken the team at Healthzone Physio for a session before so we can testify to how excellent (and difficult) it is.

Contact HealthZone Physiotherapy today on (09) 477 2098

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Rebecca graduated from AUT in 2008 with her Bachelor of Health Science in Physiotherapy and started working in a West Auckland private practice. She quickly gained an interest in sports physiotherapy including injury prevention and management. Rebecca worked for four years with premier and reserve club rugby teams including Waitemata and Kumeu / Helensville. She was the physio for the Western Pioneers team in 2012 when they won the North Harbour competition. Rebecca also practiced as a community physiotherapist administering the Otago Exercise Programme which focused on falls prevention for the independent elderly. Through these clients, she developed a curiosity in chronic pain conditions. While she has had plenty of experience in standard post surgical rehabilitation, she took a particular interest in Functional Reactivation Programmes, which work with people suffering persistent pain and complex recoveries post surgery or injury. Rebecca takes an interest in working with clients who have exhausted their channels within the health profession for the management of their pain and enjoys the challenge of helping these patients manage their conditions and return to activities of daily living. To aid in this work, she went on to get her Postgraduate Certificate in Rehabilitation from AUT. Rebecca’s passions include travel, yoga, food, comedy and film – don’t get her started on the topic of movies if you don’t have the time and energy to discuss them with her. She lives in central Auckland and is fiercely local – preferring to commute every day across the bridge than to live any distance away from friends and family!