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STRENGTH & MOBILITY BASICS - OPEN WATER SWIMMERS


In order to swim efficiently; you must possess technical skill, coordination, muscular balance, and athletic ability (Henderson, 2006). This article focuses only on the factor of muscular balance at an intro level. The aim of any strength programme should be to improve performance by increasing muscle strength specific to the requirements of the sport whilst maintaining healthy range of movement, and balance among muscle groups. Swimming demands a high degree of technical skill, coordination, and simultaneously contraction of major muscles groups in order to propel the body through the water efficiently. Despite evidence that does not support the use of dry land training for swimming performance (Tanaka et al. 1993), coaches continue to trust the practise of dry land strength and mobility exercises. This article will introduce you to some popular strength and mobility exercises recommended and used by both pool and open water swimmers.

MOBILITY
Aim: To maintain healthy balanced range of movement at joints. To avoid injury.

1. Shoulders
Shoulder rotations

2. Spine!!!
Cat-camel, Child’s pose, upward to downward facing dog, thoracic rotations

3. Hips
Hip rotations, linear leg swings, pelvic tilting

4. Ankles and feet
Ankle drives

STRENGTH
Aim: To stabilise joints and aid in the transfer of forces during movement. To increase propulsion through the water and reduce muscular fatigue. To avoid injury.

Before beginning any strength work participants should ensure that they are dynamically adequately warmed up and also that their posture is correct and engaged, see Mayer Strengthening Exercises as a routine to perform before strength work. Strength exercises performed technically incorrect can cause injury.

1. Full body
Planks (max 30sec holds, varied position (front, back, side)
Bird-dog (5 reps each side)
Pallof press (resistance band) (5 reps each side) (resistance = 8 Rep Max)

2. Upper body
Pull downs (resistance band) (10reps) (resistance = 8 Rep Max)
Chin ups (wide grip) (assisted 5 reps, aim to lift unassisted build to sets of 1 rep max, 2 RM etc)

3. Lower Body
Shallow Overhead Squats (begin with brush pole until technique achieved (8 reps), aim use 20kg bar).

This session of 6 exercises can be used as part of a strength endurance circuit (repeat x 3 with long recovery e.g. 2mins between sets).

HOME WORK
What I call ‘Home Based’ strength work should be performed on a regularly basis, these sessions are short in duration and can be used as part of a dry land warm up, warm down, or simply on a rest day at home. Swimmers must have maximum core strength to stay streamline longer in the water. If their abdominal muscles fatigue, their hips will drop causing added resistance (Henderson, 2006). An example of a ‘Home Based’ session can include the exercises below;

  • Spinal Sequence: Cat-camel to childs pose to upward and downward facing dog x 3 reps
  • T-press up (Press up, followed by a thoracic rotation) x 8 reps
  • Mayer strengthening exercises 1 sequence (8-10reps on leg lifts/ leg extension/ bridging).
  • Star excursion balance exercise x 5 reps each side.

All exercises names above can be found on the net with videoed demos. If you require any further information feel free to contact me at Riverview Clinic 061 4550006 or lynne@riverviewclinic.ie


Lynne Algar M.Sc. Exercise Physiology
BSc Sport and Exercise Sciences
PhD Researcher
Physical Therapist
Triathlon Coach








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