Improve your swim stroke

Core strength has been a big buzz
word in the fitness industry over the last decade.

Athletes and trainers are finally
beginning to understand the importance of core strength after years of ignoring
it or underestimating its importance.

Core strength can help improve
everything from your running speed to your tennis swing. Swimming is another
activity where core strength is quite important. 

A good swim stroke is fluid and
relaxed. However; that fact is only partially true. Your arm action and your
kick action should be nice and relaxed, but your core should be strong and
engaged when you swim.

Your core includes everything from
your glutes and abdominals to your lower and upper spine. Having a strong stable
core makes you stronger, so your spear through the water is in a straight line.

A strong core also creates a better
connection from your arm strokes to your torso, allowing you to use your entire
body to drive your arm propulsion, not just the small muscles in your shoulder.

Another very important factor that
affects your swim stroke is your posture. Many recreational or competitive
swimmers have office jobs and spend their days hunched over a computer while
they would rather be out training.

The posture that you adopt sitting
in front of the computer can really hurt your swimming stroke. Unless you are
very careful about how you sit, computer work and other desk jobs can cause you
to develop a slouched posture with rounded shoulders, forward head and rounded
spine and neck.

Posture and core stability go hand
in hand.  As a swimmer, you should be
concerned about your level of core stability, especially when it comes to the
upper back and shoulder region.

Having hunched or rounded shoulders
from the way you sit at the office leads to a swinging arm recovery, coming
wide around the side rather than over the top of the body. A wide arm recovery
causes cross over’s and is one of the leading causes of shoulder injury.

By sitting slouched at your desk,
you are inadvertently shortening the muscles at the front of the shoulder and
chest and stretching out those in the back. 
Over a prolonged period of time, this type of posture becomes permanent.

So what can you do? Sit up straight
for starters! Keep your shoulders back and chest forward. Working to strengthen
the muscles at the back of the shoulders and stretch those at the front will
also improve your swimming.

Learn to engage your core
muscles.  When engaging the core during
exercising, perform the talk test. Engage your core, and then talk. If you
cannot talk and keep the muscles engaged, you are merely “sucking in” the
abdominal muscles. If you can talk and maintain that pressure in your abdominals,
your core is engaged.

Core strength and good posture are
key to swimming smooth. Start thinking about yours today!

Deanna Smith is an Exercise Physiologist and Pilates Instructor at
ENERGY. She can be contacted at
[email protected] or 946-6006.