Having spent many years as a competitive swimmer and lakefront lifeguard, I feel more at home in water than on dry land! So I want to cover the topic “Swimming 101,” or how to have fun, boost your fitness and stay safe in the water.
It’s that time of year…”Those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer…” where thoughts turn to cooling off in a pool or lake. Not surprisingly, many of us would also like to incorporate some type of aquatic therapy into our fitness routines. Water therapy is a great choice, as it can keep one cool and provide an effective workout, while decreasing stress on the body and joints. Benefits to the body are cardiopulmonary in nature as well as an increase in strength to multiple muscle groups. And equally important, stress seems to melt away as you glide through crystal clear water! Before you jump into the pool, however, check out these tips to keep you safe all summer long.
As with any sport, the right equipment and preparation are key for safety and success. Obviously, a good quality swimsuit is important. Choose one that fits comfortably and feels secure on your body. Always hand wash your suit in cool water after a swim and hang to dry so it lasts a long time. Another essential is a good pair of swim goggles or a mask. Goggles should fit well with a tight seal to prevent leaks.
Purchasing a swim cap is another thing to think about when getting swim equipment ready. Whether you have a little hair or long tresses, many like the streamlined feel of wearing a silicone swim cap. Plus, those with longer hair who wish to minimize chlorine damage and discoloration can wet their hair and apply conditioner before putting on their cap. Always shower after your swim to wash the chlorine off of your skin and out of your hair. There are several swim shampoos/conditioners on the market, as well as products that can remove green discoloration from lighter hair colors.
Lastly, make sure to use a good body lotion to counteract the drying effects of pool chemicals. Also keep sunscreen in mind that if you choose an outdoor pool. Make sure to apply a waterproof product to protect yourself from sun damage and skin cancer.
Most of us remember the basic rules about water safety, however, these rules warrant repeating. First and foremost, never swim alone. That applies to everyone, even experienced swimmers. Also, do not jump in or dive in unless you are familiar with the pool and know the water depth. Don’t risk a spinal cord or head injury from landing in shallow water.
In addition to basic safety rules, it is a good idea to incorporate a warm up and stretch prior to your water fitness routine (whether it will be aqua aerobics, water walking/jogging, treading, swimming). A warm up will prepare your body for the activity to come. Some suggestions include walking, light jogging, jumping jacks or windmills for about five minutes. Stretches to consider prior to swimming include gently and slowly turning your head to the left and right until flexible, or tipping your ear down to your shoulder, both to the left and then to the right, several times. You can also try stretching your chest (pecs) muscles by gently working to touch your elbows behind your back multiple times. And lastly, reach for the ceiling to loosen up your lats.
Now you are ready for fun and fitness in the water! Should unusual muscle soreness or pain result after swimming, schedule an appointment at your nearest Athletico location so you can start the healing process and get back in the water.
Stay tuned for additional swimming blogs that will highlight the spectrum of activities that can be enjoyed to better your body in the water. Cannonball!!!
The Athletico blog is an educational resource written by Athletico employees. Athletico bloggers are licensed professionals who abide by the code of ethics outlined by their respective professional associations. The content published in blog posts represents the opinion of the individual author based on their expertise and experience. The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied on for making personal health decisions.