How many times have you heard the saying that swimming is the most complete physical exercise? That’s because swimming allows you to work all the muscle groups of your body, including your arms and legs, without putting too much stress on any specific part. It’s a unique form of exercise in many ways, more so because it’s the only physical activity we perform in the water.
There’s a mental component to swimming as well. The rhythmic movement of the water and the feeling of being weightless in the water can help you to relax and reduce stress. Swimming is also a great way to relax and unwind, which makes it ideal for anyone recovering from an accident or injury.
Let’s learn more about why swimming should be a part of your accident recovery regimen.
Swimming is a complete exercise
Which other exercise works your entire body? There are a few contenders:
- Running: It does work your entire body, but the impact on your knees and feet is high. As a result, it’s not suitable for anyone recovering from an injury on the lower part of their body.
- Jump rope: Same as running, but it puts even more pressure on your knees and joints.
- Cycling: Here again, the impact on your knees and back is too much for anyone with an injury.
Swimming is unique because it works the entire body without putting too much pressure on any single body part. That’s because of the posture and buoyancy of the water. Unlike running or cycling, you aren’t pushing your body forward with your legs in swimming. You have to use both your hands and legs. The pressure gets distributed and there’s no localized impact on a single part.
The primary reason behind swimming being ideal for recovery is its ability to provide a complete workout without impacting the joints. Water’s buoyancy plays a major role in minimizing the pressure on muscles.
Swimming can be intense or mild
You can swim however you want. Want a rigorous workout? Do 20 laps non-stop. Want to warm up and raise your heart rate? Take a few laps at a comfortable pace.
When recovering from an injury, it’s important to progress in increments. This is a great way to get started.
Doing too much in one day will make the injury worse, and doing too little won’t help with the recovery. Swimming allows you to customize your workouts depending on how much you can exert in one go.
If you are recovering from a major injury, you can spend a few weeks simply walking in a swimming pool. The gentle resistance of the water will slowly build your strength back. Once you feel better, start with a single lap. It might be difficult in the beginning, and you shouldn’t push yourself during the recovery phase. Take it easy and do whatever you can. If it means half a lap in a day, that’s good enough.
Resistance training and swimming
When we talk about resistance training, we immediately think about barbells and dumbbells. In reality, anything that gives resistance to your body is a resistance exercise. That’s why you would see many people switching to resistance bands from weights for safer workouts. Your muscles care about the resistance, not the source of the resistance.
Resistance workouts are the only way to build muscles and strength. In an accident recovery regimen, your primary goal is to regain the strength to perform basic tasks. Swimming is perfect for this. Unlike weights, there’s no risk of overloading in swimming. The resistance level is constant and safe.
Start building your strength by swimming. Here’s a sample swimming workout routine to recover from injuries:
Walk the horizontal length of the pool once. Take it slow and go only as far as your body permits. Increase the distance throughout the week until you feel comfortable walking multiple laps.
Swim the vertical length of the pool once. Aim for a single lap. If your body doesn’t permit it, stop at 25% or 50% of the lap. Your aim for this week is to complete at least one lap of the pool. If you can’t get there in week 2, continue it to week 3, week 4, and so on.
Do bodyweight exercises like squats and lunges in the pool. The buoyancy of the pool will make the movements easier. However, be careful about not injuring yourself. Don’t do any movement that impacts your injured parts. If you can’t perform any bodyweight exercise, simply stretch in the water.
Following this, continue your swimming laps. Aim for one lap, and once you can do one lap, aim for two – and so on.
People with moderate to mild injuries will start recovering from week 4. This week, aim to swim till exhaustion (only if your body permits). Now your aim is to regain your strength and swim as much as you could before the accident/injury.
However, not everyone will recover in four weeks. Take as many weeks as necessary. Continue with simple movements until you feel comfortable swimming.
Note: Work with a physiotherapist or recovery specialist if your injury is serious. Unsupervised and unplanned swimming sessions can do more harm than good. Despite being a safe exercise, swimming can lead to further injuries.
Conclusion: Swim your way to recovery
Swimming is the perfect exercise for anyone in a recovery regimen. However, you should still ideally work under a trainer and recover systematically. When done correctly and under supervision, swimming can help you regain strength, flexibility, and endurance.
Different swimming strokes have different benefits. Some strokes may be better for you depending on the nature of your injury. For these reasons, you should swim under the supervision of a trainer for quicker recovery. A structured plan will help you recover safely and quickly.
Keep in mind that you should never push your body while it’s recovering. Enjoy the experience of swimming in your fibreglass pool, installed by a perth pool builder. Most of all, have fun!
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