Many common faults in swimming occur due to poor muscle strength, as such it is important that muscles are developed and maintained to ensure good technique. As swimming uses almost every muscle in your body there are a number of different exercises you can do to help develop and maintain your muscles. Swim Australia 's website shows us some key exercises that have been modified to suit all abilities.
Common faults can include
Poor head position
- Not looking at the bottom of the pool, for freestyle, breast and butterfly strokes, and a tucked chin during backstroke or even an over extended neck causing the face to submerge from the top of the head.
- A stiff, raised neck causes the lower body to drop, allowing drag during the stroke.
- Maintain your alignment, with a straight neck, facing the bottom of the pool with eyes slightly forward, or if on your back, chin slightly raised to assist in the elevation of the lower body. This will help maintain the horizontal body position.
Just because we need to maintain a neutral horizontal position with our bodies, we can not forget the lateral rotation of the trunk of the body, from the shoulders to the hips, that is needed for freestyle and backstroke.
Not completing the full stroke. Stopping short of the hips in freestyle for example and beginning your recovery at the waist. This reduces the pull phase of your stroke thus reducing your efficiency.
Weak kicking or over kicking
A good and efficient kick requires ankle flexibility. The following stretches can be done to increase the mobility in tight ankles.
Working on your flexibility is one way to improve any swimming faults
Below is a quick 5 minute flexibility session that can be completed at home.
Ensure you start these exercises off slowly and perform them as smoothly as possible.
If you experience any pain, STOP immediately.
Sitting on your ankles
- The swimmer kneels on a mat or a kickboard.
- Slowly lower your bottom until you are sitting on your heels.
- Start off holding this position for 15 seconds, then return to the start position.
Repeat this stretch 4 times.
To develop increased flexibility
- The swimmer can slowly lean back on their heels, using hands for support and holding the stretch, before returning to the starting kneeling position.
Seated ankle flex
- Sit upright on a mat with your legs extended and back straight.
- Try to touch the floor with the tips of your toes, holding this for 10 seconds before releasing.
- Now pulling your toes towards your shins as far as you can, again holding for 10 seconds.
- Repeat this stretch 5 times each.
Ankle/ calf stretches
- Standing on a step or exercise step board balancing your toes, heels hanging over the edge.
- Slowly lower you heels until you feel a stretch at the back of your calves.
- Hold this stretch for 20 - 30 seconds, then slowly rise.
- Pushing down through your toes, holding this for 20 - 30 seconds.
- Repeat both 5 times.
- Returning to the seated legs extended position, one ankle at a time, rotate your ankle in a 360° circle.
- Repeat for both ankles 4 times each.