The Benefits of Deep Water Interval Running and Hydrolates Training

Deep Water Running Interval Training (DWR-IT) and Hydrolates (Aquatic Pilates) is a superb combination, targeting all the fitness components into one routine. It’s ideal for an amateur runner as well as a professional athlete needing that 1% edge.

DWR-IT is a non-weight bearing form of exercise which mimics the land-based running technique and a land-based training program. Water is a natural weight-training machine that is highly adjustable – the harder you push and pull in the water, the more resistance you create.

A Deep Water Running training program is significant for enhancing performance, functional injury rehabilitation and fitness maintenance running goals. The water acts as a cushion for your weight-bearing joints & prevents further injury.

Exercise Right had the opportunity to speak with Accredited Exercise Physiologist and owner of Capital Hydrotherapy, Kirra Rankin and her colleague Kayla Bonney.

Kirra and Kayla are Exercise Rehabilitation specialist who are highly trained and experienced in water therapy, who also have a strong background in Pilates. The pair share their knowledge in depth as to how Deep Water Running Interval Training and Hydrolates benefits athletic performance.

Kayla Bonney & Kirra Rankin, Accredited Exercise Physiologists at Capital Hydrotherapy. 

Hear from the experts:


What exactly is Hydrolates and how does it work?

Hydrolates at the most basic roots is aquatic Pilates and is exclusive to Capital Hydrotherapy.

The videos below demonstrate three different popular flows:

  • Plant to Tuck
  • The Barrel Roll
  • L-sit to Single Leg

The Hydrolates system is a form of movement programming in the water, emphasising the balanced development of the body through core awareness, lumbopelvic stability and postural strengthening. It utilises a combination of Pilates, breathwork and dynamic mobility in water, complimenting the DWR-IT programming.

The programming uses equipment such as – blocks, balls, mini-sticks, resistance gloves, strengthening straps and Hydrolates sticks to improve the resistance, efficiency and awareness of your body in the water.

It is targeting our ‘powerhouse’ muscles; the abdominals, pelvic floor, erector spinae group, hip flexors and gluteals which when stable, allow for safer and more controlled movements of our extremities and reduce the risk of injury.

All Hydrolates exercises and classes are run by experienced and Accredited Exercise Physiologists, with a training in Pilates.

What are the benefits for runners and for injury prevention for athletes?

Hydrolates has a multitude of benefits including enhanced body awareness, lumbo-pelvic strengthening alongside the added benefits of water. A study shows the human body responds to water immersion with changes in the heart, peripheral resistance, and blood flow, as well as alterations in skin, core and muscle temperature.

The changes in blood flow and temperature may influence inflammation, immune function, muscle soreness and perception of fatigue.

A particular article (Fredericson et al, 2005) explored the importance of muscular balance, core stability and injury prevention for middle and long-distance runners. The article explained that ‘a weakness or lack of sufficient coordination in core musculature can lead to less efficient movements, compensatory movement patterns, strain, overuse or injury’. Furthermore, activation of our ‘stabilising and force-producing’ musculature provide feedback about joint position to our brain and help prevent injury.

Why should more athletes/runners participate in this method of cross-training?

Water adds magic to any runners’ cross-training workout. A lot of people look at hydrotherapy and Deep Water Running as being ‘too gentle’ or for ‘older populations’ when the truth is, it is for everyone.

Athletes could benefit from Deep Water Running and Hydrolates as a mode of recovery post-match, transitioning back to running after injury, injury prevention and to enhance performance. Hydrolates & DWR-IT can assist to regain lost strength, conditioning, mobility, balance and motor control.

What are your top tips for someone wanting to get started and what does a sample program look like for a runner?

1. Get started with an Accredited Exercise Professional to assess your movements to establish potential areas of imbalance and/or weakness that can be improved. Mastering the correct DWR technique is essential.

The DWR technique is a suspended movement, therefore may take a little longer to learn the exercise. Once you learn where you centre of gravity is, you will be able to maintain and control your upright correct running technique. Balance and stability are the key (hence the Hydrolates & DWR complement each other).

2. Set your goals for training (short and long term following SMART principles) to adequately prescribe DWR/Hydrolates within your program and around your existing training sessions.

3. At Capital Hydrotherapy we recommend commencing Hydrolates and Deep Water Running sessions minimum twice per week to improve your neural adaptations, improve strength and optimise benefits. Depending on the periodisation phase, and time commitments.

4. To be effective for performance maintenance, Deep Water Running should be done at the same intensity, duration & frequency as the athletes’ normal land-based running program.

Here are some sample sessions of DWR-IT:

Want to take your training to the next level?

An Accredited Exercise Physiologist can assist you by guiding you through an individualized, safe and evidence-based exercise program to “bulletproof” your workouts. Get in touch with your local exercise expert today by clicking here.

The Nike Run Club gives you the guidance, inspiration and innovation you need to become a better athlete. Join Nike Run Club to reach your goals and have fun along the way. Download to get started. 


read more blogs

We have partnered with Nike Australia Pty Ltd for this article series.

The views expressed in this article, unless otherwise cited, are exclusively those of the author, Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA). ESSA is a professional organisation committed to establishing, promoting and defending the career paths of tertiary trained exercise and sports science practitioners.

Nike had no role in the collection, analysis, or interpretation of data or research or the writing of this article.