It’s always interesting to me how certain things happen in cycles. Or you’ll recognize patterns of things that are happening more often.
Recently this has been the case with swimming. And I’m sure the warmer weather has something to do with this. But I still find that more people are incorporating swimming into their training.
And so with this in mind I thought I would give you my Top 7 Reasons to Swim.
Reason #1 – It is great active recovery
For many people their workouts consist of resistance training with dumbbells, kettlebells and barbells. There are focussed efforts to flex and extend the joints in the body to produce reps and increase strength, power and muscular endurance while reducing body fat, waist circumference and recovery times.
In between days when we perform these workouts it’s great to have something we can turn to which doesn’t tax the body in the same way yet still serves the purpose of enhancing recovery. We are able to flush the body of any of the remaining waste products from training while restoring mobility with some active recovery.
Reason #2 – No impact
Do you ever get sore joints? Is it from a hard day on the ski hill? Or playing in a tournament on the weekend with multiple games over a couple of days? Maybe it’s simply an old injury thast flares up whenever you try and do too much.
This is where swimming is great. The only resistance is that of the water and is proportional the effort you exert. But even if you really go for it in the pool you will only pushing against water which is a lot more forgiving than any impact on land.
Reason #3 – It works everything
It’s hard to find a sport or activity that works as many muscles as swimming does. From your finger tips through to your toes your entire body is involved in every stroke.
Want to balance out your stroke? Flip over onto your back. Better yet track down an awesome coach (hello Steven Vander Meulen! bigfishswimming.com) and get some lessons to learn all of the strokes. Just as you would never do the same one lift in the gym when working out it makes sense to vary your workout in the pool as well.
Reason #4 – Swimming is an efficient workout
What if I told you I went for a one hour bike ride? Would you be impressed? What about a one hour rollerblade? Run?
The run might be a challenge for some but most could ride a bike or rollerblade for an hour.
Now if I said jump in the pool, the deep end where you can’t touch, and swim for an hour. How would you do? Many would struggle. And even if you lived to tell about you’d want to crawl into bed and sleep until tomorrow.
Swimming is great in this way that because it is so challenging it doesn’t take a whole lot of time to get in a challenging workout.
The next 3 points are specific considerations for swimming.
Reason #5 – Maintain a neutral head
When in the pool make sure your head is neutral. Many who sit at desks all day tend to have extended necks and crane forward to read the computer screen. When they jump in the pool they tend to transfer this poor posture to their swimming. This puts more stress on the neck, shoulders and traps.
Reason #6 – Modify your shoulder training
If you are going to start piling up the mileage in the pool make sure to modify your shoulder workouts. You can probably lay off on some of the overhead pressing movements and incorporate more retraction and rear delt work instead.
Reason #7 – Recognize the open chain
Land based activities are similar in that most are closed chain meaning that at least one limb of the body is in contact with the ground. Swimming is unique in that the limbs are not in contact with the ground. We don’t elicit the same stretch reflex as a result of ground reaction forces. We are able to push against the water to generate a contraction which can vary based the mechanics of our stroke, the stroke we use as well as the effort we apply. As a result we may need to adjust our land based workouts, specifically our core training, if we are to incorporate swimming on a more frequent basis.
In the comments section let me know if you swim and if so what the benefits are for you.
Chris okanaganpeakperformance.com ‘always moving forward’