AquaStretch Exercises

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 What are AquaStretch Exercises?

The AquaStretch exercises are a series of stretching exercises done in varying depths of water, with and without 2 to 10 lbs of weights attached to your body.  AquaStretch exercises are usually done with your body holding a static position for at least 5 seconds, but are sometimes done dynamically with intuitive body movement while maintaining your stretch.  Although there are general "starting" positions for each basic and advanced AquaStretch exercise, the specific body positions in which you "find the stretch" constantly varies, depending on your individual stretching needs.

What types of people benefit from the AquaStretch exercises?

There are basically three different types of people who seem to benefit from AquaStretch exercises. 

1.  Health Enhancement:  For a few examples - lower back pain, hip/knee replacement, neck pain,
      tension headaches, anxiety, frozen shoulder, dysmenorrhea, and potentially for pre-natal care.

2.  Athletic Performance:  Dancers, gymnasts and sports where flexibility is important.

3.  Personal & Spiritual Growth:  Promotes deeper meditation and psychological development.  

How is AquaStretching different?  What are the 5 AquaStretch secrets?

There are 5 ways in which the AquaStretch exercises are different and make them significantly more effective than almost all stretching programs done on land under the influence of gravity.   

1.  Dynamic Stretching:  AquaStretching encourages you to move dynamically while maintaining your
     stretch rather than just statically holding a stretch only in a fixed position.

2.  Intuitive Movement:  AquaStretching encourages you to move your body to where it wants to move
     while dynamically stretching rather than your cognitively deciding to move it in specific directions.

3.  Use of Weights:  AquaStretching uses 2 to 10 lb weights placed on different parts of your body
    (i.e. ankles, below knees, on shoulders) to increase stretch resistance and to stabilize you in the water.

4.  Different Depths:  Many AquaStretch exercises are systematically done in different depths of water
     to vary the relative amount of stretch resistance you experience due to changes in buoyancy, which
     allows you to stretch different muscles and other levels of soft tissue in your body. 

5. "Find the Stretch" Individually:  AquaStretching encourages you to modify its basic exercise positions
      so you can find the stretch your individual body needs rather than being instructed to hold certain
      specific positions or ideal poses, such as yoga.  For example, you may widen the spread of your legs
      or make minor changes to your head posture as you increase your flexibility.      

What are the Six Basic AquaStretch Exercises?   

The six basic AquaStretch exercise starting positions are called:

1.  Lunges                    2.  One Leg Standing            3.  Wall Sitting

4.  Hips'  8 Corners     5.  Knees & Squats               6.  High Heels

Hopefully by the end of July, 2007, you will be able to see video demonstrations of the six basic AquaStretch exercises by simply clicking on the link of each basic starting position.

Is there a one page summary of the Basic AquaStretch Exercises?

Yes, there is a one page summary of the Basic AquaStretch Exercises you can print directly from your browser, or that you can cut & paste into Microsoft Word and print with minor editing.  Just click on the link.  In the future, we plan for you to be able to download this document as a .doc file.

How long do I maintain an AquaStretch?

You generally maintain a static AquaStretch for at least five to 10 seconds, or until you feel the soft tissue relaxing.  In some cases, you may wish to maintain your AquaStretch for 30 to 60 seconds or longer, especially if you need to move that stretch dynamically.   It is usually important not to try to force the stretch so that it will relax or "melt" more quickly. "More" is not always better, and gentle stretching is usually best.

What are the Three Principles of AquaStretching?

The three principles of AquaStretching are:

1.  Find the Stretch:             Vary your body position, weights & water depth. 

2.  Maintain the Stretch:      For at least 5 seconds.

3.  Move with the Stretch:    Let your body move intuitively.

You "Find the Stretch" your body needs by varying your body position, by varying the amount and location of 2 to 10 lb weights, and by varying the depth of water that you do your AquaStretch.  And please don't feel limited to the starting positions of the advanced and the 6 basic AquaStretch exercises.  After you learn to AquaStretch, your may notice your body intuitively wants to stretch in ways not starting from any of the advanced or basic AquaStretch exercise starting positions presented on this website.  

Please notice that you are asked to "Maintain the Stretch", not just “Hold the stretch” which suggests you hold your stretch in a static position and/or that you try to hold your body in some ideal pose.  One of the reasons AquaStretching is so effective is because you are encouraged to "Move with the Stretch", and move your body intuitively while maintaining your stretch dynamically.


Humor Break:  The most important exercise while dieting is "The Push Away", and saying "No, Thanks."

How do I "Find the Stretch" while AquaStretching?

There are three ways for you to "Find the Stretch" while AquaStretching:

1.  Vary your body position:        Make changes to your starting position, or create your own.

2.  Vary the Weights Used:         Use weights of different amounts & on different parts of your body.

3.  Vary the Water Depth:          Changing your depth even 4 inches may significantly change the stretch.

The basic and advanced starting positions presented on this website are not meant to be absolute.  You should vary the specific position you need for any particular AquaStretch exercise depending on what you need to do to "Find the Stretch".  For example, you may need to make changes in your arms, legs, upper body, or head postures to almost any of the AquaStretch starting positions to "Find the Stretch" you individually need.

You may almost need to use different amounts of weights, including using no weights, in order to "Find the Stretch".  5 lb weights on one leg may produce a different stretch than 5 lbs on both legs.  In addition, you may want to vary the location of your weights.  For example, sometimes you may put weights on your ankles, or just below your knees, or on top of your shoulders. And please understand that the higher your body fat percentage, the more weight you may need to get effective stretch resistance because of buoyancy.

To be specific, when doing the AquaStretch exercise "One Leg Standing", you may initially use 10 lbs on one ankle, and after a few sessions, you may only use 5 lbs;  and after a few more sessions, you may not use any weights at all.  Similarly, when doing the AquaStretch exercise "High Heels", you may initially use a 5 lb weight on one ankle, and after a few sessions, you may not use any ankle weight, but you may want to have 5 lb weights on one or both of your shoulders.

Do you need to do all the basic AquaStretch exercises?

No, you do not need to all of the basic AquaStretch exercises.   The specific AquaStretch exercises you do are usually determined by what your body needs to stretch, and how much time you have available on any particular day.  There may be some basic AquaStretch exercise positions that provide you with minimal stretching benefits and you may not feel the need to stretch in those positions. 

On the other hand, some AquaStretches will feel as if you really need to do them and will feel really good to do.  For example, if you have lower back pain and you do the basic AquaStretch Lunges and One Leg Standing exercises, you will probably clearly feel the need to stretch your lower back and the benefits of AquaStretching. 

Why are the same AquaStretch exercises done at different depths of water?

As you will quickly experience, at different depths of water, the same basic AquaStretch exercise position will stretch different muscles and connective tissues.  In general, your webmaster speculates that the increased buoyancy your body has in deeper water allows your body's big muscles to work with less strength, which then allows you to more effectively stretch smaller and deeper connective tissues (i.e. fascia), particularly around the joints of your body.     

What are the different depths of water generally used for some of the basic AquaStretch exercises?

The basic AquaStretch exercises usually done in varying water levels (Lunges, Wall Sitting, & Hips' 8 Corners) are not done at absolute depths, but are relatively determined based on your individual height, progressively decreasing by approximately 4 inches of water depth.   A six foot tall person starts the same AquaStretch exercise in deeper water than someone who is 5' tall.  These are the three relative depths to primarily use: 

1.  Start with the water line about 2 inches below your armpit.

2.  Proceed to belly button level water.

3.  End with hip level water, about 4 inches below your belly button.


Humor Break:  What is the zen meditation mantra for weight watchers?   Yummmmmmm

What is the purpose of wearing weights while AquaStretching or YogaDancing?

Wearing 2 to 10 lb weights while doing the AquaStretch exercises or while Aquatic YogaDancing in water is one of the key reasons why AquaStretching and YogaDancing are so effective in helping increase flexibility. The weights increase your stretch resistance just enough to allow the gentle stretching that your body needs.  Without the weights in water, your body may have too much buoyancy and as a result, you may not be able to maintain sufficient stretch resistance to increase your flexibility.

What type of weights do you use for the AquaStretch exercises?

As of 7 Jun 07, we are primarily using aquatic and non-aquatic weights made by All Pro Weights:  10 lb/pair and 10 lb single ankle weights (Styles #400 & #M500M), aquatic 5 lb/pr ankle weights (Style #A1250), and 6 lb/pair Thigh weights (Style #TW675).   At minimum, be sure to get a set of All Pro's versatile  6 lb/pair Thigh Weights which we also use as ankle weights and as a knee pad just below the knees .  (To prevent rusting problems, be sure to take the metal ingots out of their removable slots in any non-aquatic products after each use in the pool, and let them dry before putting them back into their slots.)

NOTICE:  On 2 July, 2007, Eddie Winston of All Pro Weights informed your webmaster that All Pro is willing to specially produce some Aquatic 4 lb/pr Thigh Weights if AquaStrech.com will order and pre-pay for at least 250 pair. Mrs. Winston said they would simply put acrylic coated ingots in their existing thigh weight products, using lesser weight ingots than their non-aquatic product, which is why the Aquatic Thigh Weights would be 4 lb/pr, not 6 lb/pr.  If you would like a pair of Aquatic 4 lb/pr Thigh Weights, please post your interest in ordering that product on the AquaStretch Blog, in the section entitled "AquaStretch Exercises:  Comments & Feedback".

For ankle weights, your webmaster uses 10 lb/pair Ankle (Style #400) and  10 lb Single Ankle (Style #M500M) weights made by All Pro Weights, primarily because their well designed product has a Velcro connector that is very convenient to take on and off, and because All Pro non-aquatic ankle weights are comfortable to wear.  Other weights, including All Pro's aquatic ankle weights, have Velcro straps that must be looped through an eye and are not so easily taken on and off, and/or are not so comfortable.  The long Velcro strap of All Pro's non-aquatic ankle weights also allow them to be doubled up, so you can put two 5 lb ankle weights on top of one another which is often necessary for people who have higher body fat percentages.  It is hoped All Pro will soon offer 10 lb/pair and 10 lb single aquatic ankle products without the loop used in their current aquatic weights.

If you plan to do facilitated AquaStretching or Aquatic YogaDancing regularly with many different people, we recommend you get a set of  one 10 lb Single Ankle, one 10 lb/pair Ankle, one 6 lb/pair Thigh weights for use with your partners, and one set of 10 lb/pair Ankle weights for yourself.  This combination of weights will give you great versatility in helping people who have different body fat percentages.  For example, if you need 10 lbs of weight on each leg, you can put the 10 lb single on one leg, and stack the two 10 lb/pr ankle weights on top of each other on the opposite leg.  Your personal ankle weights will depend on your relative body fat.  If your fat level is low,  All Pro's aquatic 5 lb/pr (2.5 lbs each) ankle weights may be sufficient, but many people need at least 5 lbs on one ankle, especially when working on taller partners in deeper water.  (As described shortly, be sure to consider using acrylic coated ingots taken from All Pro's 10 lb Aquatic Weight Belt to avoid rusting problems with All Pro's non-aquatic weights that use metal ingots.)

If you find other 2 to 10 lb weights designed for use in water, which are both comfortable and convenient to take on and off, and which have adjustable weight amounts, please email the name of those products, their model number and manufacturer's name to AquaStretch@aol.com   (Please indicate in your subject line:  Weights)

Where can I buy exercise weights for AquaStretching?

You can buy All Pro Weights at many U.S. retailers, such as Dick's Sporting Goods or Sports Authority stores.  However, you may need to ask your sporting good store or retailer to special order specific All Pro products. 

All Pro Weights are available online from  Amazon.com  and  KarateDepot.com and several other merchants.   When ordering ankle weights, be sure to specific All Pro's 10lb/pair Ankle weights (Style #400) and 10 lb single Rehabilitation Ankle weights (Style #M500M) since they come in different sizes.  All Pro's ankle weights come in both 5 lb/pr and 10 lb/pr units, and their single rehabilitation ankle weights come in 2.5, 5, 10, and 20 lb units.


Here are some links to help your comparison shopping for specific All Pro products:


All Pro @ Amazon         5 lb/pr Aquatic Ankle        10 lb/pr Ankle         10 lb Single Ankle        6 lb/pr Thigh

KarateDepot.com          5 lb/pr Aquatic Ankle        10 lb/pr Ankle       10 lb Single Ankle         6 lb/pr Thigh                           
 

WARNING:  When AquaStretch.com ordered All Pro Weights directly from the manufacturer, we were advised that All Pro's non-aquatic products were not designed for use in water, a fact consistent with our experience.  Over many months of daily use, the metal weights used in their non-aquatic weights tend to rust,  which in turn cause the material holding those weights to deteriorate.  Also over time, All Pro was concerned the water would wear down Velcro and other materials.  However, because single Aquatic ankle weights of both 5 lb and 10 lbs are not yet available from All Pro, we continue to use their non-aquatic ankle products #400 and #M500M, and their non-aquatic 6 lb/pr thigh weights. 

SOLUTIONS:  To deal with the rusting problem, we have been ordering All Pro's 10 lb Aquatic Weight Belt and substituting the 3.5 oz acrylic coated ingots from that belt for the metal ingots in All Pro's 6 lb/pr thigh weights and their 10 lb/pr ankle weights with great success.  Another AquaStretcher reported that if you take the easily removable metal ingots out of their sleeve immediately after use in the pool and simply let them dry, there is minimal rusting.  In the future, we may test painting those metal ingots with high quality pool paint.

You may find it economically worthwhile to compare the prices and shipping costs between online merchants, to determine your best total cost.  On 28 Feb 07, the cost from ten online sources ranged from $29.95 to $49.99 for 5 lb/pr All Pro Aquatic Ankle weights, and from $24.95 to $48.99 for non-aquatic 10lb/pair Ankle Weights.  Because weights are heavy, you may also want to know that shipping costs varied from "free" to actual UPS or FedEx charges, which were about $6 per unit to ship cross country.   

In the future, you may be able to order All Pro Weights online directly from AquaStretch.com.  However, because shipping costs are high due to their heavy weight, and because All Pro only ships in units of at least 3 in a carton, it is currently cost prohibit to un-box, repackage, and then re-ship to potential AquaStretch users. 

If you need 3 or more of any particular All Pro Weights products, you may wish to contact All Pro Weights directly at 800 735 9287, to see if you qualify for wholesale prices.  Please understand that on 28 Feb 07, All Pro shipped their aquatic and non-aquatic products in minimum orders of boxes containing 3 units, i.e. 3 Aquatic Wrist weights, plus shipping costs by FedEx ground.   On 28 Feb 07, All Pro was also not accepting credit card orders and reasonably required check or money order prepayment on first orders.

How can I conveniently store & transport my aquatic weights?

An Arizonan YogaDancing instructor recently gifted your webmaster a "Rolling Cooler" to store and transport my weights to and from my swimming pool.  My Rolling Cooler is like an ordinary airport carry-on bag in size, with wheels and a telescopic handle, but it is also leak proof.  The particular Rolling Roller I received was manufactured by CaliforniaInnovations.com of Toronto.  It is their "CI Sport Platinum, 54 Can Collapsible All Terrain Cart" model (#1-71541-00-03) for "up to 80 lbs". 

The above information is not meant as a special endorsement for the California Innovations Rolling Cooler.  The detailed information provided relates to the gift I was given and represents a good example of the concept, especially for other Aquatic YogaDancing and AquaStretch instructors who need a large carrier. If you have other ideas or specific products that can be used to store or transport aquatic weights, be sure to post your suggestions on the AquaStretch.com Blog.  In particular, there may be smaller Roller Coolers better suited for people who need only  one set of aquatic weights.

Humor Break:  Medical experts agree that AquaStretching does not cause stretch marks.