How To Overcome “Swimmer’s Slouch”
Chances are, at some point in your life you’ve been told to “stand up straight.”
As a swimmer, heeding this age-old wisdom can have a tremendous impact on your performance in the water. Good posture helps you keep your body in a streamline position, which has a positive effect on your stroke and speed. It also protects you from injury, namely swimmer’s shoulder and the associated degeneration that comes with it.
Let’s take a closer look at how improving your posture can pay off in the pool!
The Risks of Swimmer’s Slouch
“Swimmer’s slouch” is a real thing — and those who mainly swim on their stomachs are particularly prone to rounded shoulders, a forward head posture and a posterior pelvic tilt.
There’s a few reasons this poor posture is so common among swimmers. While exercising in a relatively weightless environment has its advantages, it also creates muscle imbalances that can throw your posture out of whack. Swimming puts the chest, back, arms and shoulders to work, but the muscles in the hips and legs are typically less developed.
Unfortunately, this impairs body alignment and increases drag, which slows you down in the water. This is because you have to work harder against the water to propel forward. It can also increase the risk of injury, because it places greater stress on certain body parts that can cause a breakdown over time.
Tips for Improving Posture & Balance
So, what exactly constitutes “good posture”? An article on Oregonexercisetherapy.com defines it as “the ability to support a natural s-curved spine and upright torso over strong and stable hips. Standing on both feet and legs evenly is a sign of good posture.”
While it sounds simple enough, simple doesn’t always mean easy. It ultimately boils down to awareness and consistent practice to break poor postural habits. If you’re ready to see an improvement in your posture, check out our list of ideas below!
- Prioritize pulling exercises over pushing exercises. You can use a rowing machine or resistance bands/weights to develop the back muscles and create more balance in the upper body.
- Try the chin tuck exercise to strengthen the muscles that pull the head back into alignment over the shoulders. Swimmingworldmagazine.com explains how: “Lie on your back with your knees bent. Next, create as many double chins as possible at your neck, without lifting your head off the ground. Next, lift your head slightly off the ground, while maintaining the double chins.”
- Deadlifts are notorious for their ability to strengthen the hip and back muscles. Here’s an article with instructional videos on proper form from CA personal trainer Keith Oelschlaeger.
- Dryland conditioning is essential, since increasing your strength will improve both your balance and posture. Check out tips for strength and conditioning exercises here.
- Pilates is an unrivaled exercise when it comes to improving postural alignment. It’s focused on lengthening and strengthening the spine, as well as building core strength to create a powerful stroke.
- Bear crawls are a fun, playful movement that build postural strength, coordination and balance. Here’s how: Start on all fours, with your legs hip-width apart and your arms shoulder-width apart. Lift your knees so they’re at a 90-degree angle, hovering an inch off the ground. Keeping your back flat, move the right hand and the left foot forward an equal distance. Then switch sides. Continue to repeat this movement, alternating sides.
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