I thought I would write a bit about swimming because whether you are pregnant, just delivered, or well beyond those points in your life, swimming is a great exercise choice. It is simply a fantastic way to get your heart rate up and strengthen muscles through non-impact activity.
I love this exercise choice because it promotes extension. I have blogged extensively about the importance of working the muscles on the back side of our bodies. If you think about it, everything that we do throughout our day is out in front of our body. This tendency to work our flexors and forget about our extensors, rounds our shoulders, flattens our back, and tucks our tail bone under. When you combine this with the never-ending pull of gravity, we can begin to understand why so many of us stand with poor posture and have significant muscle imbalance that can lead to pain and muscle dysfunction. The lack of extension, for many women, can lead to symptoms of incontinence and prolapse. A flexed or “tail bone tucked under” posture can cause our pelvic floor muscles to be ineffective.
Swimming is an activity that can reverse this flexion and get you in an extended position. It will work your transversus abdominus, your low back, your legs, your arms, and your cardiovascular system. It is a great exercise to work into your cardio rotation, alternating it with walking, running, biking, hiking, dancing, or whatever else you choose. It gives your joints a break and promotes extension, all while maintaining your cardiovascular conditioning.
If you are not a fan of the water, you can ease yourself into it. Grabbing a kickboard and doing some laps is a great exercise that will work your back extensors, your transversus abdominus, and your legs. And maybe you prefer to have your feet on the ground when in the water. Then water aerobics with the option of resistance paddles in your hands can offer the same benefits, promoting extension, muscle strengthening, through the resistance of the water and relieving joint compression forces.
So, if you are heading to the gym and looking for a non-impact work out, pass by the elliptical and arc trainer, and get in the water!!! Steer yourself away from the first two exercises listed that again work your body in a flexed position and begin a swimming routine. The extension will feel great and will benefit you far more than you will immediately recognize.