How does an underwater treadmill work?Read article
There’s no doubt that water sports are great exercise in their own right. But here’s the trick… increasingly, water sports are proving their value in increasing land-based sporting competitiveness. Here’s some insight into the key advantages you get from water-based fitness training.
The Buoyancy Factor
The one thing all water sports have in common is what we call the ‘buoyancy factor’. That one’s a double whammy because buoyancy makes some tasks easier and others harder – which is what makes it so ideal for all kinds of sports training.
Think of it like this… balancing on one foot can be difficult on land but it’s pretty easy in a pool, right? Equally, running super-fast is relatively easy on land but when you try that in a swimming pool, it’s much, much harder.
So, buoyancy can help you learn to do a difficult task more easily or make an already established task-limit more challenging – both of which translate to improved on-land performance.
Leading sports coaches know the powerful benefits of in-water exercise and how that translates on the track or field.
Research shows that it takes some serious brain power to make all the little neural muscular adjustments we need for continuous movement through water. And that factor alone can help improve dynamic balance, co-ordination, reflexes and endurance. Are you starting to see how this could relate to squash, golf, rugby and more?
But buoyancy isn’t the only factor that supports improved sports performance on land. There’s so much more.
In-water sports increase flexibility, range of motion and functional strength.
Think about that duality of support and resistance water provides. When you’re in the water you’re forced to use core strength and mobile joint stability to maintain your course of motion. And in supporting yourself, you’re actually developing full body strength.
Full body strength means increasing your range of motion and power throughout your body. When you’re pulling yourself through the water, you’re using every part from your fingertips to your toes. The weight of your body is only suspended through your power (strength) to resist sinking.
Water training can also increase specific areas of expertise and power. For example, freestyle swimming uses all of your body including shoulder joint, through your torso and to your hips which directly translates to sports that require rotational motion (softball, golf, tennis, etc.).
Swimming is the perfect vehicle to develop lean muscle mass which is essential for dynamic sports such as running, rugby or gymnastics.
All that buoyancy helps you gain a balanced build (think of those Olympic swimmers with perfect symmetry and washboard abs). It also helps lengthen your range of movement, stretching your muscles which helps ward off muscle-tightening injuries. Furthermore, training in a heated pool can relax your muscles and help improve your flexibility.
Water training makes a massive difference to injury prevention as well as rehabilitation.
Exercises like running and cycling can lead to a build-up of lactic acid in your muscles and an easy post-workout swim can help flush out those muscle-tightening toxins – a real advantage by way of shortening your recovery time. The International Journal of Sports Medicine suggests that recovery swimming could universally apply to any sport that causes tissue inflammation (80-90% of all sports).
Water-based rehabilitation is of course well known because it is low impact while supporting injured muscles from the full impact of your body weight. A rehabilitation programme should ideally be planned with a health professional but watch their eyes light up when you mention swimming.
Sporting success depends on efficient use of oxygen and swimming increases your lung capacity over time.
Like all exercise, water training is great for heart health and stamina but swimming actually improves how efficiently you breathe. The bottom line is that as you perform high-intensity exercise while holding your breath, your lung capacity increases and you guessed it – that means more oxygen more efficiently managed, when you engage in land-based sports.
Swimming combines endorphin highs with the calm and relaxed state of yoga. A panacea for mind and body in one.
The combination of exertion with rhythmic breathing is powerful. Swimming is calming and meditative while teaching focus. There’s research to suggest that swimming can actually reverse brain damage due to stress through a process called hippocampal neurogenesis (fancy words but anything that repairs the brain has to be good for you, right?).
And if all that doesn’t float your motivation… remember swimming can lengthen your life!
All exercise is health-beneficial but here’s a fact for you… researchers at the University of South Carolina studies 40,547 men aged 20 to 90 over more than 31 years. Those that swam had a 50% lower death rate than runners, walkers or men that didn’t exercise!
That’s a lot of extra years to perfect the sport you’re most interested in. Whether you’re an athlete or leisure-player, you can see why water sports can give you an advantage in your game.
Now’s a great time to check out our Endless Pools® Fitness Systems – the most cost-effective and convenient water training solution on the market today. Endless Pools Fitness Systems give you literally endless opportunity to work on your form - in your space and at your pace.
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