Swimming is a great form of exercise that uses almost every muscle in your body. It’s a low impact exercise, that doesn’t put load through your joints. It’s good exercise for people of all ages and abilities. So whether you’re a pro or a beginner there are few things you can do to help your performance and reduce the risk of injury.
Stroke technique is very important. There are four main techniques known as front crawl, backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly. Each stroke carries common injuries associated with them if not performed correctly.
Front crawl: Front crawl is a great stroke for speed. When doing this stroke make sure to alternate between left and right when you turn your head to breathe. This will help reduce strain on the neck. Turn your whole body to breathe and not just your head. This makes the stroke more efficient and again reduces strain on your neck. A common injury associated with front crawl is swimmer’s shoulder also known as shoulder impingement syndrome. Poor stroke mechanics applied in front crawl are frequently implicated in the development of swimmer’s shoulder. The result is inflammation of the supraspinatus and biceps tendons. Pain will be felt on movement of the shoulder. Ask a coach or friend to observe your stoke, to help you make any corrective changes needed. For treatment chiropractic helps restore any lost range of motion and reduces the pain. Rehabilitation exercises to strengthen the shoulder may also be prescribed.
Breaststroke: Breaststroke may appear to be an easy stroke, but when performed correctly is a vigorous workout. When doing breaststroke you shouldn’t keep your head constantly out the water. Avoid neck strain by putting your head under the water and only come up to breathe. Wearing goggles will allow you to do so without exposing your eyes to the chlorine in the water. Make sure to kick you legs out evenly to reduce unnecessary strain on your lower back and knees. Asking a coach or friend to observe your kick, will help you know if you’re kicking out evenly. Knee injuries are almost exclusive to breast strokers. Patellofemoral syndrome is a common injury. Abnormal softening of the cartilage of the underside the kneecap (patella), which is a cause of pain in the front of the knee. It is one of the most common causes of chronic knee pain. It results from degeneration of cartilage due to poor alignment of the kneecap as it slides over the lower end of the thighbone. Chiropractic treatment can help this condition by working on the quad muscles to help realign and strengthen them with rehabilitation, whilst improving the range of motion in the knees, ankle and hips.
Backstroke: When swimming backstroke remember to keep your legs close together and kick from the hips rather than the knees. Your ankles should be relaxed and your knees slightly bent on the downbeat. Not doing this can lead to ankle tendonitis with overuse. As well as ankle pain, the area may be tender, red, warm, or swollen if there is inflammation. You may have more pain and stiffness during the night or when you get up in the morning. Ice the ankle if swollen and seek chiropractic treatment to help rehabilitate the ankle and reduce the pain.
Butterfly: Butterfly is the most difficult stroke to master. It is the most recent stroke developed and second fastest stroke to front crawl. The kick should come from the hips and not the knees. Your body should be led by the crown of your head, with your shoulders and hips horizontal. By getting the technique correct, you can avoid a common injury such as low back muscle strain and spasm. Chiropractic treatment will help speed up the recovery process of this and prescribe core rehabilitation exercises if required to help support the back.
- When swimming front crawl, make sure to alternate between left and right when you turn your head to breathe. This will help reduce strain on the neck
- Turn your whole body to breathe during front crawl stroke and not just your head. This makes the stroke more efficient and reduces strain on your neck
- Wearing swimming goggles helps to protect your eyes and allow you to put your head under the water during a stroke such as breast stroke. Keeping your head constantly out the water will cause neck strain over time
- It is important to stretch your muscles before and after swimming. Special attention should be paid to the shoulders which play a big part in all stokes
- As with any sport, if you have not swum in a while, ease yourself into it by building your lengths week by week, so as to avoid injury
- Swimming uses almost every muscle in your body and is good exercise
- Swimming is good low impact exercise that doesn’t put a load through joints