Some swimmers underestimate the importance of warming up before swimming. It’s not surprising as it’s usually tempting to just jump right in. However, there are many reasons taking time to warm up is essential before you dive into the water.
But how many minutes should you take to properly warm up? The intensity of your swimming session will influence the amount of time you should spend warming up. If you plan to do swim sprints, it’s best to take your time to warm up. For some people, five minutes maybe enough, while others may need 10-15 minutes. The key is to listen to your body.
There are two major types of warm-up routines, namely, static warm-up and dynamic swimming warm-up. Static warm-up involves maintaining a position for a sustainable amount of time, approximately 30-60 minutes. It produces mild discomfort that has been proven to increase a person’s range of motion. Dynamic swimming warm-up involves performing different types of movements as opposed to holding a position for a specified amount of time. It increases blood flow throughout the body, thus making it easier for swimmers to move in the water. Dynamic warm-up exercises are highly encouraged by trainers, coaches, and therapists for swimmers.
What is a Dynamic Swimming Warm-Up Exercise?
A dynamic warm-up exercise is a combination of soft tissue work (self-myofascial releases), dynamic mobility, injury prevention, functional movements, neural activation, and gentle cardio exercises. Experts encourage swimmers to perform this exercise for at least five minutes. The exercise should be done before a workout, prior to a competition, and between races.
What are the Benefits of Dynamic Warm-Up to Swimmers?
Your muscles are often stiff at the start of your workout or training session. Any sudden, rigorous movements could lead to injuries. Dynamic swimming warm-up exercises prepares you for the activity and lowers your risk of injuries.
- 1. Preparation for additional muscular and metabolic loads
Swimming is an energy-consuming activity that could leave you out-of-breath and result in sore muscles. A dynamic swimming warm-up pushes more oxygen and nutrients to your muscles. It also enhances blood flow to the muscles, preparing you for the activity and improving your endurance.
- 2. Initiates a cardiovascular process essential for resisting fatigue and lasting longer in the pool
Dynamic swimming warm-up prepares your body for rapid changes in blood pressure and oxygen supply. Cardio exercises increase your metabolic rate, thus raising the temperature of your body so you can acclimatize properly to the temperature difference when you get into the pool. When you don’t warm up before getting into the pool, you’ll start with stiff muscles and this could lead to injuries. Lactic acid can also build up quickly if you don’t warm up before your swimming workout, training, or competition. Lactic acid causes fatigue and therefore could affect your performance.
- 3. Creates flexibility and improves muscle coordination
Dynamic swimming warm-up exercises activate your muscles. A good example is the lunge with a twist. This warm-up engages your hips, legs, and core muscles. Your shoulders are also engaged, making it easy to move through the water. During the cardio phase, you swing your arms in circles, which improves flexibility.
Some swimmers also do jump rope to enhance flexibility in the ankles and muscle coordination. As a result, you’re able to push more water backward instead of kicking it down. When you kick water down, it creates a drag. When you push water backward, you create a forward thrust, helping you cover more area with less effort. The flexibility of the ankle also gives the body a better positioning and makes the ankles and the feet coordinate well. According to a study done by the NCAA, flexibility in the ankles enhanced kicking speed.
- 4. Prepares your nervous system
Dynamic swimming warm-up eliminates nervous system fatigue and helps improve your workout performance. During warm-up, your brain receives messages that your body needs more energy, oxygen and blood. Your brain responds by supplying what your body needs so you can perform the movements with ease. Without warming up, your body is unable to keep up with the sudden change in oxygen and nutrient requirements.
Dynamic Swimming Warm-up Exercises
To reap maximum benefits from dynamic swimming warm-up, you must adhere to the following guideline;
- 1. Self-Myofascial Release for infraspinatus, tensor fasciae late, quadratus lumbar and thoracic spine
Shoulder pain is a common injury among athletes. Foam rolling, also known as self myofascial release is done to release the tension on the trigger points. The lacrosse ball is the perfect ball size for this muscle release. To do this, you have to find the trigger points, then use the foam roll to massage these parts.
- 2. Kneeling Lunge with alternate shoulder IR/ER
It involves the athlete being in a lunge position One knee is down on the ground, the athlete raises the same side arm straight up in the air and the hand should stretch overhead and across the body to the right to create a good stretch in the hip flexor and torso for approximately ten seconds.
- 3. Cherry Pickers
This involves standing with the feet shoulder width apart, the hands reaching down and touching the floor. Start by touching the floor in front of you, then slowly work your way backward until you’re touching the space between your feet. Finally come back up and place your hands to your waist. Repeat this several times. When done regularly, it could improve balance and reduce any injuries to the back.
- 4. High Kneeling Wall Slide and Y
Start in a half-kneeling position with your legs apart. Bend your front knee at 90-degree and keep your back knee on the floor. Keep your chest forward and bring your arms up so your hands are over your head. Rotate your torso to the direction of your front leg. Keep this position for a second, return to your starting position and repeat the process a few more times.
- 5. Side step with ER
The knees and the hips are flexed with the torso upright and facing forward. Wrap your arms around your body in a hug. Go back to your starting position once you feel that you’ve stretched your shoulders enough.
- 6. Reverse Lunge with Bow and Arrow
It involves standing tall with your hands on your hips or overhead and then taking a large and controlled step backward with your left foot. Bend your left knee at 90-degree angle with your heel raised. Stand, press the right heel onto the floor, and bring your left leg forward to complete one set.
- 7. Rotational Punch with Upper Cut
Bends your knee, keep your hips down, and rotate your body as this stage generates the power for the uppercut punch and then release the uppercut. Relax your hand as you quickly lower to the desired uppercut angle.
- 8. Jumping Jacks
Stand up straight with your arms on your side. Jump as high as you can while raising your hands high in the air and then returning them to the side upon landing. You may tweak the routine by doing internal and external shoulder rotation to help prepare the rotator cuff for the demands in the pool. You must ensure that the area you’re doing this on is stable and dry to prevent slipping or sprains. Make sure to do the exercise for about a minute before proceeding to the next step of the dynamic warm-up.
This exercise forms an important part of the cardio portion of the warm-up, as it raises the body temperature and increases your heartbeat to cope with more activities slated for later. Additionally, it conditions the brain to fine-tune reaction times and other preemptive tactics naturally geared towards avoiding injury.
- 9. Push-up
You can try a few push-up exercises to warm up your upper body and arms for motion in the water. Begin by lying straight on your tummy with the arms folded at the elbows. Place your arms perpendicular to the side of your body and put your palms firmly on the floor. Try and raise your body off the floor until your elbows are at a right angle, then slowly lower yourself. Always support your lower body using your toes and maintain a straight back to prevent straining it.
- 10. Skipping
Skipping is a dynamic swimming warm-up exercise that every swimmer needs to do. It gets your heart rate up and your lungs to work more efficiently. Skipping varieties you can do include butt kicks and fast paced skipping. You can also use a skipping rope.
- 11. Split Jumps
Stand with their legs two to three feet apart and place one foot in front of the other one. Keep your torso upright and your legs bent. Lower your body into a lunge and jump. When landing, make sure that the opposite leg lands forward into a lunge position. Repeat this several times with the forward leg alternating in each rep.
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