3 Top Tips to Improve Your Swimming Technique and Reduce Pain
Swimming is an ideal, low-impact, non-weight bearing activity that helps to strengthen and maintain postural muscle tone, and provides the spine with gentle mobility. With good technique, swimming should make your joints feel more flexible and supported.
Set a goal to spend 1 week focusing on one tip only, before moving onto the next. It can be useful to use flippers until you have a good feel for all three tips, to help you glide through the water with more momentum when starting out.
1. Swim ‘downhill’ to improve your body position: This is the most important skill to master as your position in the water determines how much resistance you need to work through. Think of the body as a see-saw; the higher the head and chest, the more the legs sink and drag; and the lower the body, the more the bottom and legs float. Even when you turn to breathe, keep the head as low as you can.
Adapt the downhill position by looking to the floor below you, and allowing the head and chest to relax into the buoyancy of the water. This will allow the power you generate in the legs and arms to move you forward, rather than that effort going to waste in trying to keep the legs afloat!
2. Flatten the back: By scooping or tilting the pelvis the ribs draw upwards and the bones of the lower back move to the surface of the water. This will enable you to use your core stability muscles, which allows you to feel more balanced and in control in the water.
Even though you are engaging the muscles around the core to maintain this pelvis position, don't forget to breathe! Long breathe out when the head is down so that you can have a small head turn to breathe to the side
3. Feel the Water: Try and get a feel for the water with the palms of your hands when pulling, and the top and bottom of the feet when kicking. Think of it like feeling the wind out the window, when you are moving quickly in a car. Take note of what direction you are moving the water. To move forward, the palms should be pushing the water down to the feet.
To grip the water with the feet, a small bend at both the hip and knee will allow you to relax the foot and feel the water on both sides.
At Bespoke Physiotherapy, a number of our clients use swimming as an integral part of their rehabilitation process, so if you can swim, let us know about it!
Blog By: Jenna Ward (Physiotherapist, Clinical Pilates Instructor, Vestibular Rehabilitation)