Be it for leisure, exercise or for competitive purposes, swimming requires a lot of muscle to move in a way they typically don’t on land.It is very important to get all the muscles activated pre-swim and cool-down post-swim.
Here are 5 warm-up exercises that will give your body the mobility that it requires before you hop in the water:
- Ankle rockers: Place your legs hip or shoulder width apart. Slowly begin to rock forward and backwards on your toes and heels as you walk. Repeat 10-15 times for 30 seconds.
- Knee circles: Bend your knees slightly. Move in a clockwise motion for 30 seconds. Repeat counterclockwise.
- Leg swings: Stand straight and swing one leg front to back. When swinging forward, extend your knee and bend it gently as you take it back getting the heel to your butt. Repeat 10-15 times on each leg.
- Side bending: Stand shoulder-width apart with hands extended overhead, start bending side to side through your trunk. Repeat 10-15 times for about 30 seconds.
- Arm circles: This exercise hits your shoulders, triceps, back and biceps. It preps up and mobilizes the shoulder joints for various strokes. Fully extend your arms sideways. Move your arms in slow circular motions clockwise and counter-clockwise for 30 seconds.
After the swim, it is best to ease back out. Swimming is a low-intensity aerobic exercise that gets all the major muscle groups working.
This increases the demand for oxygen from all these muscles making you breathe deeper.
A cool-down relaxes all the muscles in your body, normalises breathing and brings the heart rate back to normal.
These are the cool-down exercises you need to do after swimming:
- Wall calf stretch: Stand a foot away from a wall. Keeping the leg that you want to stretch behind, lean forward with the other leg. Keep the heels grounded and hold the stretch until you feel a stretch. Hold for 30 seconds on each leg.
- Standing quad stretch: Stand with your feet close. Pull one leg back bringing the heel close to your glutes until you feel a stretch in your thighs. Hold for 30 seconds and then repeat on the other side.
- Floor hamstring stretch: Lie down on your back with your legs extended straight. Bring one leg straight up. If you find this difficult, use a resistance band. Hold for 20-30 seconds and then switch the leg.
- Triceps stretch: Raise one hand up and bend it to reach your back. With the other hand, push the elbow of the bent hand down. Hold for 15-20 seconds on each hand. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1dYHDWqPc
- Side head tilts: With hands extended straight and close to either side of the body, tilt your head to one side. Old for 15-20 seconds and then repeat on the other side.
Pre and post-swim exercises help improve the swimming performance, buoyancy and most importantly prevents back and shoulder injuries. Remember, rest, hydration and nutrition also play an important role in getting you ready for the next swim.
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