With the heatwave hitting the lower mainland many of us will try and keep cool. Some of us might have refreshing drinks; others might find a building with air conditioning while some will hit up the local beach or community pool. Swimming isn’t just a great way to stay cool; it is a great way to stay active during the summer heat. If you have had a recent injury or have repetitive strain injuries (RSI), you might think that the last place you should be is in the water. However, swimming provides a low risk way to keep the body moving, while stretching and strengthening specific muscles.
Repetitive strain injury is a general term used to describe pain felt in tendons and muscles caused by repetitive movement and overuse. The condition can affect parts of the upper or lower body. The symptoms can range in severity and they usually develop gradually. This type of injury can be difficult to manage and make it hard to stay active which is why swimming is a great alternative. Swimming reduces the force of impact on the body. The buoyancy of the water supports your body and protects your joints, allowing you to avoid the impact that comes from bearing a lot of weight. It also provides some resistance, making it an excellent way to maintain your training without losing muscle mass.
Swimming with good form provides full body motion which helps by using muscles in their full ranges, increasing core stability, and increasing circulation. Specifically front crawl (freestyle) and backstroke will help synchronize torso movement - especially rotation - with shoulder, arm, and hand movements. Breast stroke however arches the neck and back which then compresses the spinal joints and should therefore be avoided. Deep water “running” - with a floatation belt, and feet not touching the pool bottom - will allow lower limb injuries to recover without aggravating symptoms caused by repetitive pounding on your feet.
Before you dive in make sure that you talk to your health care professionals to determine ideal swim strokes, activities, etc that work best for you and your injuries. They may also the real reason you are having problems, whether it is an overuse issue or faulty body movements. So what are you waiting for? Check out these local outdoor pools to increase your physical activity and vitamin D:
Kitsilano Pool, Vancouver
New Brighton Pool, Vancouver
Central Park Pool, Burnaby
Macpherson Pool, Burnaby
Kensington Pool, Burnaby