As much as I would like to, I can no longer deny that I am aging. The older I get, the more I realize the importance of stretching. I’ve always known I was supposed to stretch, but now my body is demanding that I take the time required to do it right. My body no longer feels as flexible as it once was and I am becoming more prone to injury. I can’t continue to neglect this part of my fitness routine. I have started to prepare myself for our Lazyman Iron Tri and that includes getting back in the pool for lap swimming. I decided to do a little research to learn which stretches I should be doing with my swimming. I wanted to share with you some of the information I found.
First of all, why do we stretch?
-To increase flexibility
-To prevent injury
-To improve swimming performance (speed and technique)
The benefits we can receive will far outweigh the few minutes it will take to add stretching to our swim workout. So let’s do this.
Next, when do we stretch?
According to the website ‘about sports’, “It should be done after warming up for 10:00 to 15:00 minutes or after the completion of your regular workout. Generally, stretching before a workout only restores your regular level of flexibility at best, and trying to stretch “cold” muscles could injure them. Stretching after a workout tends to increase your flexibility and greatly decreases the odds of injuring the muscle during the stretch.” So just like on land, there is a debate on how much stretching should be done before we warm up. To read more, check out their website.
So if we stretch before our workout, it should be after we have swum a few warm-up laps. I have also read a few articles that say stretching after swimming can be done up to two hours after a workout and still beneficial. That gives us a bit of flexibility. Yay!
Next, what do we stretch?
Anyone that swims can tell you that swimming uses a lot of different muscles. Matter of fact, any time that you start swimming after a long absence, it feels like swimming works every single muscle in your body. The key is to stretch things that should have some stretch or elasticity to them (muscles), but not those things that shouldn’t have elasticity (ligaments and joints).
Azcentral has a list of leg stretches for swimmers to include toe touches, sitting hurdles, wall stretches for calves, quadriceps and shin stretches . Visit their website for step by step instructions.
Not only does usaswimming have instructions for stretching your legs, back & neck, but they also have a series of exercises you can do to prevent injury.
Lastly, which stretches should we not do? I found an article by usmsswimmer.com very interesting. Not only do they walk you through an active warm-up, but they show you which stretches we shouldn’t be doing. I found this particularly interesting because I have been guilty of doing some of them! Oops!
We’d love to hear what stretches work (or don’t) for you in your swimming routine. Comment below if you’d like to share with us moves you have found work well.
I hope you’ll take the time to not only read some of these stretching articles, but to do some stretching. You’ll be glad you did!