You may at some point have considered a swimming program as a part of an exercise and fitness regime. Symmetry Physical Therapy would like to share some information regarding the benefits and also the potential pitfalls of recreation in the water.
Swimming for recreation has many health benefits. It is great exercise for the whole body – including the entire muscular system, as well as the heart and lungs. An added benefit is that in the water there is very little strain placed on joint structures. Swimming can build endurance, muscular strength, and cardiovascular fitness.
Swimming is good for your mind! The rhythmic nature of swimming can be calming and meditative. The relative calm of being in the water can also assist with stress reduction and global body relaxation – both of which can have a significant positive impact on pain syndromes and on other indicators of overall health and wellness, such as blood pressure or heart rate.
Swimming burns 3 calories / mile for every pound of body weight. This would translate to 900 calories per hour for a swimmer that averages 30 minute miles and weighs 150 pounds. This calorie burning is taking place while exercising all of the major muscle groups in the body – arms, torso, and legs. It’s good exercise for your entire body!
Are there “down sides” to swimming? Certainly. For instance, swimming does NOT meet the qualification of “weight-bearing exercise”. This means that it does not stimulate bone health as well as other forms of exercise. This would be important to you if you have been diagnosed with osteopenia or osteoporosis, or have a family history of the same disorders.
Injury can also occur during swimming, as with any other sport. For swimmers, the most common syndromes involve Repetitive Strain Injuries. For swimmers primarily using Freestyle or Backstrokes, it is possible to develop Swimmer’s Shoulder – a disorder involving the rotator cuff muscles. Breast Strokers may contend with Knee Tendonitis or Hip Pain related to Tendonitis or Bursitis. Swimmers that Butterfly may suffer from Swimmer’s Shoulder or from Back Pain Syndromes.
If you are experiencing pain related to swimming, you may be exhibiting signs that you have poor technique, strength imbalances, or that you have made training errors that are stressing your musculoskeletal system. You might benefit from Physical Therapy, which can help to manage symptoms, improve mobility, and correct form.
We invite you to contact Symmetry PT with any questions that you may have about Swimming or other Water Recreation. We’d be happy to help you begin or get back to swimming successfully!