The Aquatic Exercise Association recommends a water depth between navel to nipple, but actually there are quite a few factors to consider when deciding how deep or shallow you should go. Here are a few suggestions to optimize your water workout...
* Work in deeper water for Level I or Rebounding movements to cushion weight-bearing joints and to increase your buoyancy so that your jumps are buoyancy assisted. I've had both of my hips replaced even though I'm young and for me, rebounding at a collarbone depth feels optimal. If you tend to carry extra body fat, working deeper may make you too buoyant. Experiment to see what water depth feels the best without undue impact.
* Work in shallower water for grounded or anchored movements so that gravity will help anchor you and allow you to increase the drag forces on your limbs from being stabilized. Ditto for water walking variations and faster skipping variations. If you're too deep, you'll float more, but find yourself unable to move quickly or get much traction on the pool bottom.
* Traveling moves using large Level I or Rebounding movements is best done at a nipple depth. Since you're moving from one end of the pool to the other, as well and up and down, this depth allows some buoyancy assistance but lets you get some traction to travel forward, backwards or sideways.
* For Level II or Neutral moves, you're supposed to sink down to your collarbone, but if you're too shallow when you sink, you may hurt your knees from being too hunched or in the case of a hip replacement, feel like you're going to dislocate a hip from too much hip flexion. Again, experiment to find the optimal working depth for Level II moves.
* Stretching works well at waist depth. Some stretches like the calf stretch and hip flexor stretch are difficult to perform if you're too deep because your body will want to float up off the pool bottom.
* And finally, it's okay to change your water depth throughout a class. Different moves require different optimal depths. Let go of any territoriality (that's my spot!) and move around the pool from nipple to navel to collarbone depth.
Lover of dance, dance-fitness and aquatic fitness.