By Melody Coleman |
Personal Trainer & Swim Coach
Active recovery is an essential part of any effective training programme. Keeping your body moving on non-training days will maintain strong neuromuscular connections, keep your BMR (natural fat-burning capacity) high, prevent soreness and injury, reduce high cortisol and blood pressure, promote good connective tissue quality and encourage new muscle synthesis.
One of the best ways to incorporate this highly beneficial technique into your regime is to swim. I make swimming an essential part of my weekly routine, and I recommend it to all of my clients. No matter your ability level, this super sport could benefit you in a wide range of ways:
7 Benefits of Swimming For Workout Recovery
#1 Swimming is impact-free
Unlike running or other sports, swimming places almost no impact on your joints. The effects of gravity are negated in water, so even when you land at the pool wall or on its floor, you’ll experience a considerably lighter impact than if you were on land.
You’d be hard pushed to injure yourself in a swimming recovery workout, even if you have a pre-existing injury (always gain medical approval before exercising whilst injured).
#2 It relieves pressure
Swimming also provides more evenly spread resistance for your muscles than other cardio methods, allowing you to enjoy a safe recovery workout without fear of injury.
Hydrotherapy (exercise performed in water) is a popular rehabilitative tool amongst injury specialists, as it actually relieves joint pressure due to the body’s weightlessness, allowing controlled movement against very light resistance.
#3 Encourages healthy shoulder ROM
For inactive individuals, or those who focus predominantly on lifting in a linear fashion, the fluid and full range of movement involved in front crawl, butterfly and backstroke can be highly beneficial for encouraging flexibility and healthy range of motion in the shoulders.
#4 Keeps you moving
Light cardio sessions between workouts have been shown to have a positive effect in the reduction of lactic acid when compared to inactive resting.
Remaining sedentary in the hours after a hard gym session can cause you to experience muscular soreness -so keep moving!
#5 Reinforces motor control
Particularly for new or improving swimmers, strengthened neuromuscular connections and motor control can be seen, as the varied movements and manoeuvres in swimming require a strong mind-body connection.
#6 Mental benefit: requires concentration
Focusing on your technique, rhythm and efficiency can feel really meditative, and really give you time away from your daily thoughts and stresses, which can help your body release any tension.
You’ll come back to them after a refreshing workout with a clearer perspective, having had a mental break.
Top Tips For A Successful Swim
✓ Get the gear
Wear swimwear that’s good quality and appropriate for your workout. Flappy shorts and loose costumes can create drag or cause unfortunate wardrobe malfunctions;
✓ Don’t forget your goggles
Bright pink eyes aren’t a great look, plus if you can see underwater you’re in a far better position to avoid collisions with unsuspecting swimmers;
✓ Go in with a game plan
It’s all too easy to stop and rest at the wall for longer than necessary. Devise a plan, including rest periods, appropriate for your ability level, and stick to it the same as you would in any other workout;
✓ Be a considerate swimmer
If you’re swimming slowly, don’t go in the fast lane and cause a traffic jam! Likewise, confident swimmers avoiding busy fast lanes can be off-putting for those learning or swimming leisurely in the slow lane.
Take Home Message
Show off the body you work hard for! You train hard, eat well and look great – why not get your muscles/curves/abs out and exercise your body confidence too?
I firmly believe that confidence, happiness and determination are important elements of training that should be practised regularly for great results!