We know that the benefits of swimming have long been touted as a great way to get in shape without even feeling like you’re exercising! What could be better than that? Working out without feeling like your working out!
Every time you jump into the swimming pool to swim laps or play games with the family or use a kick board, take a water aerobics class or do in pool running exercises, you are getting a great cardiovascular workout without fear of injury. Swimming also offers a way to work all of your large muscle groups, your core, your legs, your buttocks, your heart and your lungs.
Good swim technique is built on a strong core and strong core muscles. A strong core will also help with balance issues that many of us suffer as we age. Work on your core. Improve your strength. Getting in shape in the pool helps assure that the more in shape you are, the more productive and beneficial your workouts will be.
Stability is a conversation swimmers and trainers have and it centers around individuals having a strong core – stomach and back muscles – and that leads core stability. Core stability helps your posture both in the pool and out. Good posture can also help alleviate back pain and other muscle and joint issues.
How can you strengthen your core?
- Squeezing your buttock muscles
- Swimming, using strokes that elongate your posture (the crawl or breaststroke, for example)
Flailing around in the water may help you burn calories and will be a workout, for usre, but practicing good swim technique helps assure your movements are both fluid and relaxed. Great technique means your arms and legs will be in complementary action and their movements will be fluid and smooth. Don’t wait until you’ve mastered this to get in a swim workout, though. Even an inelegant doggy paddle will engage core muscles!
Swimmers with strong and stable cores slice through the water like a knife and their body remains in a straight line.
Even More Benefits Of Swimming
What can you do to strengthen your core? We have put together some exercise ideas that will help you strenghten your core so your swim workouts have more power and grace and also you will be and feel more stable when you’re on dry ground.
When you’re ready to jump in the pool, visualize your body as having a piece of string stretched from your pelvis to your rib cage; visualize it as being taut as you swim.
- Engage lower core muscles when you swim. It’s like when you do a crunch — the lower core muscles are in your lower belly. Extend and stretch when you’re swimming. Picture yourself long and lean as you slice through the water. Envision that string keeping your body taut and straight as you swim.
- Visualize you’re holding a large coin between your butt cheeks! Go ahead, laugh. We know we did when we wrote this! This visualization keeps you focused and your muscles engaged. Don’t clench or tighten up too much or you may cramp up. Squeeze your butt and engage your muscles and find more power in your kick. Practice this exercise until it seems like second nature.
- We live such sedentary lifestyles today and that leads to back pain, being overweight and having poor posture. When this is your lifestyle, you need to focus more fully on your posture. Sit up straight; this engages your core muscles. Don’t slouch. Focus on keeping your shoulders held back and down. Pay attention to those times when you’re leaning forward in your seat. When you notice that, stop and sit back up straight and tall. When you’re driving you also need to focus on good posture. Focus on keeping your head engaged with the headrest on your seat rather than hunching forward over the steering wheel. Good posture is great for your health outside of the pool and will help you swim with more stability when you’re in the water.
- To swim smoothly and enhance core stability work on upper posture and strengthen your shoulders. Pay attention to the muscles between your shoulder blades. Roll your shoulders — front to back then back to front. Pull shoulder blades tightly together, then bring them in toward your spine. Release. This exercise focuses on upper core strength.
Who cares about posture when you’re swimming?
Maybe you haven’t given your posture much thought, but you should. Remember those days when you would walk around your room with a book on your head to assure you had good posture? Why did you stop? It’s still important. Here are reasons to care about your posture:
- You’ll swim straighter. You will expend less energy when swimming if you swim straight. Arm strength and posture keep you from “rolling” when you switch arms during strokes like the crawl.
- A body with better posture will have a better “roll” when you’re doing a flip turn at the end of a lap. Body roll strength gives a more powerful swim stroke.
- Strong upper body and strong inner core strength help your swim strokes be more in tune and complementary to your body movement when you’re swimming. When you have good posture you’re using your entire body to propel through the pool rather than only using your arms and legs.
Core workouts matter
If you love a gym work out, work on your core when you’re there and that will help you swim more strongly. Focus on your core when you’re when you’re swimming laps.
Each time you swim you don’t have to focus solely on working out — have fun but consider your core when you’re doing so. Remember, though a strong core will enhance the time you’re swimming laps as you’ll be burning calories, getting in shape and getting a great cardio workout.