Here are two similar recent inquiries relating to introducing aqua-running to a training program as part of recovery from bone fractures. Laura asks: I am 6 weeks post broken ankle and wanted to know if pool running would help me get back to running after this injury? And Matt asks: I have been diagnosed with a hip stress fracture, most probably caused by adding too much mileage or too much speed in a short time. I’ve been advised to stop running completely for the next 4 -6 weeks. In the meantime, can I aqua jog? I tried it yesterday, and felt no pain. Will it be beneficial to do, or would it be best to let the bone heal, then start again with pool running and later on hard ground?
Aqua-running is absolutely ideal for coming back from a broken ankle or any stress fracture because it reduces the pounding on that limb. Most bones in most people heal within 6-8 weeks.
Continued stress on the bones in the case of a stress fracture may either exacerbate it or prolong recovery. A stress fracture by nature is from pressure/pounding on that location (your hip in this case) which develops a “hot spot.” It needs to heal. So, it is critical not to put pressure on it during recovery.
Unless there is some other medical reason, both of you should be able to pursue the non-weight bearing approach in the deep end with the waist float. Then you can move to the partial weight bearing in the shallower end. Gradually reintroduce your hard ground running. A good way to do it is to alternate days… and listen to your body. Be sure you do the pool workouts in an interval fashion as described above for the most benefit.
You will need to reintroduce running on hard surfaces gradually. The last thing you need is to take two steps back after waiting so long to “get back at it.” One day a week for a couple weeks, then two per week. Only proceed if there is no pain at all. You have to read your body very well. This is not a case of “toughing it out.”
Be sure to review this with your doctor before pursuing it. There can be contraindications and so before you launch into a program (even in water) get the go-ahead from your doctor.