While swimming could easily find its place on this list of summer activities that can be added to your DIY physiotherapy itinerary, it’s an all year activity that many Vancouver-ites partake in as a part of their physical fitness regime. And like with all other physical activities, physiotherapy can have a major positive impact on both injury prevention and performance. Today, we are diving in with some insight as to how and why you, as an avid swimmer, should consider making physio a part of your life in and out of the water.
3 Reasons Why Regular Visits with a Physical Therapist is a Smart Idea for Swimmers
1. Can Rehab Common Swimmer Injuries
While swimming is a non-impact exercise that is often used to rehab injuries, it can also cause them when certain muscles are overused and/or when poor technique is applied (more on the latter below). Therefor tennis and golf aren’t the only activities that get to lay claim to a common (elbow) injury, as swimmer’s shoulder is indeed a thing, with the shoulders accounting for up to 91% of reported ailments.
Swimmer’s shoulder is the most common among injuries, and often exhibits inflammation of the supraspinatus and biceps tendon within the subacromial space. This leads to what is called shoulder impingement which involves rotator cuff tendonitis, something most swimmers have already had experience with. But there’s more.
Swimmers are also susceptible to overuse injury to the neck and lower back in addition to the feet, ankles and knees, the latter of which can be brought on by kicking during breaststroke and front crawl and further accentuated when a diving element is included into the routine.
After considering all of the potential for injury above, you can see why you may need a physiotherapist in your corner to offer quick injury response to all that can ail you in the pool, lake, or ocean.
2. Can Prevent Common Swimmer Injuries
Of course, you prefer not to have to see a physiotherapist for injury repair which is why you should take proactive steps to consult with a physio on a regular basis so that you remain injury free as a swimmer. Upon your first visit, we will perform an extensive body assessment to identify posture irregularities and asses joint movement, control, strength and flexibility, while applying hands-on-techniques to reestablish muscle imbalances, movement and posture.
A physiotherapist will also ensure that you employ proper swimming techniques. What does this involve? For one, they will provide you with a comprehensive and customized exercise program to address all of the body movements that are called upon when swimming, a program that also addresses the smaller stabilizing muscles that will assist the big movers (i.e. shoulders) in doing what they need to do. A physiotherapist will also prescribe an effective warm-up and cool-down regime, and address proper stroke technique and can even connect you to local Vancouver area swimming coaches, in the event that you’re seeking to take things to the next level with respect to personal bests and/or competition. View more on how our very own clinic will help you prevent common shoulder injuries.
Remember, since swimming is a non-impact exercise, injury is the result of overuse, poor technique, and a non-graduated spike in workload, all of which can be prevented through physical therapy.
3. Can Improve Your Breathing Technique
While the assistance in perfecting your swimming technique (above) will help improve your performance in the water, there is another way physio can assist in this capacity. Physiotherapy can help you breathe (and hold your breath) better. This is accomplished through a variety of ways.
For one, a physiotherapist will work your core. All exercises developed to protect and improve your core functioning will start with your breathing technique. This technique brings breath to the muscles that work together for an optimally functioning core, including the breathing diaphragm which is the principal muscle of respiration. The demands of swimming call upon an increased rate and depth of breathing, and the accessory muscles of breathing need to begin working with the diaphragm in order to inflate and deflate the lungs by pulling the ribs up and out (inhale) and down and in (exhale). Long story short, when working your core, you improve your breathing technique by strengthening the diaphragm and this will go a long way when doing laps above and below the water’s surface.
In addition, comprehensive physiotherapy upkeep will keep your cardiovascular levels and endurance up. This will enhance your cardio-reparatory fitness and thus help you breathe (and hold your breath) better.
It should be noted that there is a unique discipline within our industry known as chest physiotherapy, a practice whereby mucus is indirectly removed from a patient’s breathing passages, which ultimately improves breathing. This is a more isolated case, so if you have a respiratory condition, please bring them up during the initial consultation.
Before you head for your local pool, lake, or ocean we encourage you to schedule a consultation with our clinic to make sure your body is prepped to prevent injury and optimize performance. Contact Absolute PhysioCare today.