Preventing Injuries During Competitive Swimming

Preventing Injuries During Competitive Swimming
The immense health benefits of swimming are a common topic on this blog. That said, there is always an element of risk in any sport or activity. With that in mind, today’s post will explore ways of preventing injuries during competitive swimming.

Health Benefits of Swimming

As mentioned above, swimming is a wonderful exercise. It is far less impactful on the joints than other cardiovascular exercises. For example, since you aren’t pounding your feet on the hard concrete like a jogger, it can cause significantly less wear and tear on your knees.

Additionally, regular swimming can improve your heart rate and build muscle strength. Swimming is also terrific for mental health and stress relief.

Differences Between Competitive and Casual Swimming

Competitive swimming is obviously much more intense than a simple dip in the backyard pool. Serious swimmers are striving for speed, agility and overall perfection. It is an exhilarating sport that wows Olympic audiences and high school gym crowds alike.

Of course, with that extra intensity, comes extra risk. Preventing injuries during competitive swimming can be trickier. As an athlete strives for success, they may neglect basic safety. Additionally, it can increase the strain on their bodies.

While the benefits of swimming tend to significantly outweigh the risks, it is still important to pay attention to your body. In particular, overuse injuries are the most frequent cause of complaint. For instance, muscles and sensitive joints can suffer from overtraining. In fact, many competitors are known to train over 20 hours a week. That can lead to aching shoulders and sore muscles.

Preventing Injuries During Competitive Swimming

This next section offers some basic guidance for preventing injuries during competitive swimming.

Start by Warming Up

Before starting any exercise or sport, it pays to warm up your muscles, joints and ligaments. Some stretching and light exercise can really help to get your body ready for a fierce bout in the water. According to the Mayo Clinic and many other sources, athletes that don’t use a warm-up program are at a greater risk injury than those who are prepared.

Beyond the basic warm-up, be sure you’re taking care of your entire body, both in and out of the water. Fitness doesn’t just mean working on the muscles you’ll be using during competition. When possible, consider including some cross-training programs in your practice schedule. With weight training, you can prepare all of your muscle groups for stronger, more controlled strokes.

Technique Matters

Speaking of controlled strokes, proper technique should always be followed. As with any exercise, swimming involves a lot of repetition. Over time, the wrong movements can do damage to our sensitive muscles and joints. To prevent this, be sure to follow proper form and technique on every stroke. Swimming lessons and training with a coach can really help with this issue.

Limit the Amount of Repetitive Motions

Just as proper technique is important, so is keeping your repetitive strokes to a minimum. As mentioned above, overuse injuries are quite common in this sport. When preventing injuries during competitive swimming, you should vary your strokes. During each practice session, try to alternate between the three basic strokes. These include breaststroke, backstroke and freestyle.

Rest and Recovery Are Critical

Finally, rest and recovery days are extremely important. Each week, be sure to take some break days. Constant rigorous training can greatly increase the possibility of injury. No one wants a preventable injury to force them onto the bench. Instead, take some time to recuperate. You’ll give your body time to heal and grow stronger, and get some much-deserved rest!

To learn more, speak with a medical professional and your coach. More information is available in this helpful guide from the AAP.