Swimming requires a wide range of whole body movement. Shoulder range of motion, thoracic rotation, hip and pelvis dissociation, just to name a few. If you're a competitive swimmer, it's within these subtleties of swimming that lie your advantage and by conditioning and preparing your body you can help to prevent injury. For others, swimming itself is the workout but even for these recreational swimmers, good technique is essential in preventing injury and allowing them to enjoy their swim for many years to come.
There are a variety of exercises needed to target specific areas of your body as well as enhances your technique in the various swimming strokes. Pilates is great for improving your arm, shoulder, thorax, back and leg strength, not to mention improving your mobility. As well as teaching you how to connect all of these movement segments into a fluid and beautiful stroke. Here are just a few ways in which Pilates can drastically improve your swim;
- Breathing - The most common error in swimming which often ends up leading to injury and putting a holt on personal progression is that of the unwanted breath hold, basically insufficient breathing. Pilates teaches a swimmer to breath in a normal, relaxed but efficient manner. Pilates exercises incorporate not just correct breathing control but they also improve breathing awareness often to areas of your thoracic cage you need to focus on. These areas are the parts of your body that needs much ventilation and release in order for you to create better technique in different strokes. With the proper usage of your breathing muscles during exercises that mimic your strokes you simulate the correct technique needed the pool. By including weights, the Pilates reformer straps or wunda chair, you can replicate the resistance as you would have underwater.
- Body Awareness - Swimmers have to be very body aware of their position and balance because they are buoyant in the water. Pilates teaches functional patterns of movement which focus heavily on controlled precise movements. This will help your technique by improving your sense of your body underwater, where your optimal joint position lies and how best to orchestrate all this in time with your breathing.
- Core Control - Abdominal and core strength is essential to prevent injury and allow your body balance in water. In order for a swimmer to have a great stroke and technique, he has stabilise the powerhouse which is the core muscles. Over hundreds of Pilates exercises, all of these offers the strengthening you need to condition specific muscles and activate your core. It offers simple to dynamic exercises to stabilise your torso while moving your upper and lower limbs-- swimming!
- Flexibility and Mobility - Flexibility of the joints and muscles is an important factor if your wanting to achieve a great stroke. Similar to other types of workout such as Yoga and Tai Chi, Pilates can help you stretch and release specific areas to improve your swimming. The use of concentric and eccentric movements teachers your body how to use its full range of motion thus creating your optimal stroke torque in the water.
Pilates for most is just a simple way of getting your body moving but the more challenge you want Pilates can offer to you. It is a multidimensional approach to improve not just your body in the swimming strokes you prefer but, most importantly, in aspects of being injury free - prevention and recovery. Not only do Pilates exercises strengthen your limbs and core, it also focuses on body awareness in a way unparalleled in other movement routines. It helps prevent injuries by building up the inner support system and avoiding fatigue which can overload your joints, muscles and whole awareness... what professional or non-professional swimmer wouldn't want that!
If you're interested in partaking in a class to assist your swimming or you would like a FREE initial physio assessment get in touch today.