When you jump or dive into the swimming pool, the laps you swim aren’t all about moving your arms and kicking your legs. A good swim technique is built on a strong core and strong core muscles. You can work on your core and improve your strength while you’re in the pool and you can work on exercises that will help strengthen your core so your swim workouts are more productive and beneficial.
Core stability has been a conversation that many swimmers and trainers have had and it centers, literally, around an individual having a strong core – stomach and back muscles – that lead to having core stability. This core stability will help your posture both in the pool and out. Good posture can also help alleviate back pain and other muscle and joint issues.
There are three ways you can get started on building your core:
- Stretching through your core
- Squeezing your buttock muscles
- Swimming in an elongated posture
Good swim technique is one that is both fluid and relaxed. This is only a part of the overall technique, as any swimmer will tell you. To have really great technique you will need to have your arms and legs in action and the movement of your arms and legs should also be fluid and smooth. Regardless of the smooth, fluid movements, you core is working hard and is engaged throughout.
Swimmers have come to embrace that paradox – fluid and relaxed and strong core – extending from your buttocks to your upper spine. When you have a strong and stable core, you can slice through the water like a knife and remain in a straight line as you do so. When your core is strong, your arm strokes will help propel you forward using your arms, hands and engaging your small shoulder muscles.
Swimming Exercises To Help Your Posture
Here are some exercises to help you strengthen your core and swim with more power, fluidity and grace. When you get ready to jump into the pool for your laps, you will want to 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.
Stretch your core. Engage your lower core muscles when you swim. Stretch tall and long while you swim. Bring your rib cage away from your pelvis and elongate your entire body. When you stretch tall through your core you will strengthen your torso. Keep envisioning the string in your body as you swim.
Engage your butt muscles. For this exercise you can visualize that you’re holding a large coin between your butt cheeks! We know, it sounds odd, but this visualization helps keep you focused and keeps the muscles engaged. When you’re swimming, you want to focus on keeping the imaginary coin trapped. Don’t clench overly tight or you might cramp up. When you squeeze your butt and engage your glute muscles you will find more power in your kick and may even see your kick getting stronger. The more you do this type of exercise, the more your mind will connect with it and it will feel like second nature.
Stand up tall. If you work in an office or find yourself sitting more hours of the day than you do standing, you need to focus on your posture throughout the day. Sitting up straight will require you to engage your core muscles to keep you sitting straight and tall. Don’t slouch. Focus on keeping your shoulders held back and down. 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.
Work your shoulders. To swim smoothly and add to your core stability you will want to work on your upper posture and strengthen your shoulders. To do this you will want to focus on the muscles between your shoulder blades. Pull your shoulder blades together and back, bring them in toward your spine. This is an important swim exercise as it focuses on your upper core strength.
Who cares about posture when you’re in the pool?
If you don’t care about your posture, you should and here are three reasons.
- Better posture helps you swim straighter and helps with arm extensions. You will expend less energy when you’re swimming laps if you swim straight and have more arm strength which will keep you from “rolling” when you switch arms during strokes.
- A better body roll will develop when you have better core strength. Body roll gives you a more powerful swim stroke.
- When you have a strong upper body and strong inner core strength your arm strokes are more in tune with your body movement. This means you are using your whole body to propel yourself through the pool instead of just your arms and legs.
You can work on your core at the gym or focus more fully on your core when you’re in the pool swimming laps. Every time you’re in the pool you don’t have to focus on core strength and swimming laps, you will want to have fun, as well. But if you’re looking to swim laps, burn calories, get in shape and have a great cardio workout, core strength will help you do just that.