12
Feb

What You Need to Know About Youth Mental Health in 2019

The mind of a young child can seem like a total mystery to many adults. Though all adults went through the same stages of development, it’s nearly impossible to remember what it is like to feel such intense and unregulated emotions, explosive moods, and irrational fears. This can lead many parents and caregivers to worry that something is wrong with their child when they show signs of obsessive behavior or have trouble paying attention.

In reality, most children just need time for their young minds to develop neural pathways before they can better regulate their thoughts and actions. But for a handful of children, those inhibiting behaviors never go away, even as they reach an age where they should have outgrown certain behaviors.

youth mental health counseling

Photo Credit: AndreyPopov

Preventive Programs

In fact, studies show that one in five children in America has some type of emotional or behavioral condition. Luckily, there are a growing number of options to help treat these youth mental health illnesses, and new preventive programs to help kids avoid such illnesses as they get older.

For example, Arizona State University hosts a special program called New Beginnings to help walk families through crises like divorce or the death of a parent. This reduces the likelihood of mental illness in kids by up to 36 percent. Similar programs across the country have helped to lower rates of drug and alcohol abuse in kids as well.

Managing Mental Illness

Preemptive measures aren’t a catch-all to avoid mental illness in kids, but there are excellent treatment options for those children who do need help managing their condition. These treatments cover the full scope of health and can also be beneficial to older people and even those who do not have a mental health condition.

Diet and Nutrition

Experts report that proper nutrition can improve brain function as well as help the body fight off other physical illness. They recommend a diet rich in nutrient-dense vegetables and fruits, as well as nuts, unsaturated oils, and lean proteins. Foods like plant-based proteins and fish can help prevent dementia and are an important part of brain health nutrition.

Emotional Processing

Many mental illnesses spur from poorly managed emotions. Taking time for self-care and processing emotions will help prevent debilitating anxiety or depression. Some ways to process emotions include talking through problems with a trusted friend, writing in a journal, taking a walk, and meditating.

Social Interaction

Having a strong social network is vital to sound mental health. Friends and family can bolster a person in times of need and bring much-needed connection. Those wanting to manage or prevent mental illness should make an effort to strengthen and maintain many friendships. Even people who are busy should make time for social outlets like a monthly book club, weekly lunch date, or daily phone call.

Brain Stimulation

Just like physical bodies, brains need regular exercise. This can be accomplished through brain games like puzzles, trivia, memorization, or similar activities. Reading and other healthy brain exercises help to stimulate connections between nerve cells, which prevents future cell loss. Kids should limit screen time and replace it with learning activities or imaginative play.

Physical Activity

Exercise sends oxygen to the brain, and that oxygen helps to create new nerve cells and improve thought processes. Exercise is also known to boost endorphins and mood, so those who are prone to depression can look to working out as a powerful medicine. Exercise also helps to lower blood pressure, improve cholesterol levels, reduce mental stress, and much more.

Swimming to Cope with Mental Illness

As mentioned, any physical exercise is a great option for those working through or wanting to prevent mental illness, but swimming is particularly beneficial. Studies show that swimming can significantly decrease anxiety and depression. Some doctors prescribe swimming as an antidepressant and believe it can be done in lieu of taking pills. The rhythmic patterns are like a meditative experience for many people, kids and adults alike.

If you’re looking to enroll a child in swim lessons, check out SwimJim. Our friendly, fun environment has helped countless children learn to swim while feeling safe and at ease. We have a thoughtful approach to swimming and are dedicated to helping every student learn proper technique. Sign up for a trial class and discover how swimming can benefit your child’s life today.

5
Feb

Swimming Pool Exercise Equipment for Enhancing Your Workouts

When someone tells you that they work out, what do you think of first? Likely a gym membership, a pair of running shoes, or an exercise video. But exercising in a pool is just as beneficial as working out on land, and in some ways, it’s even better.

For one, it’s much easier on the joints (a fortunate fact for anyone who has arthritis or joint problems). It also tends to burn more calories due to the resistance of the water. And working out in a pool enables you to work muscles that are often otherwise missed.

swimming pool exercise equipment

Photo Credit: fotovampir

The problem is, just as you might not think of a pool first when considering where to work out, many people aren’t aware that there’s a range of exercise equipment designed for swimming that can maximize the health benefits of your water-based activities. To introduce you to some of them, here’s a list of some of the most effective swimming pool equipment.

Fins

Fins, or flippers, are swimming aids that allow you to go faster when in the water. Divers use them all the time. But before you say, “wait, don’t they make swimming easier?”, remember that for the added power they provide, they also apply added resistance, and require additional effort to use.

Flippers are big, heavy, and they move more water with each stroke. Slip them on and jump in, and your legs will be burning in no time.

Paddles

Just as fins add resistance to your legs, paddles (or webbed gloves) add resistance to your arm strokes. Worn on the hands, they function just like paddles, allowing you to move more water with each stroke. The added speed comes at the cost of added effort, and your shoulders will really be feeling it after a swim with these on.

Kickboard

If you’re looking to isolate your legs rather than increase resistance, a kickboard is an excellent swimming equipment choice. Held in the hands, it helps keep you afloat while occupying the arms so that your legs have to do all the swimming. It can be held close to the chest for comfort, or out at arm’s length to give your core a workout as well.

Pull Buoy

A pull buoy does for your arms what a kickboard does for your legs. Placing one between the legs forces your arms to do all the work, while still keeping you from sinking. It’s used between the thighs and requires you to keep your legs tightly together to hold it in place, so you’ll likely still feel a bit of a burn there, too.

Resistance Socks

If you’re just looking to make swimming harder in general, resistance socks are a good way to start. Worn on the feet, these simple devices increase your drag, making it more difficult to move quickly in the water. This forces your whole body to exert more effort to maintain your pace, and can really spice up your workout.

Parachute

If you’ve been swimming a while and want something that’s a step up from resistance socks, go with a parachute. While swimming parachutes won’t save you from falling out of a plane, they will slow you down in the water. The added resistance from dragging what’s basically a small fabric bucket will have your muscles aching in no time.

Ankle/Wrist Weights

Now let’s take a look at some swimming equipment that can also be used for activities other than swimming. First up are ankle and wrist weights. These small, wearable weights wrap around your wrists or ankles and usually fasten with velcro. While they can be used during a normal swim session to weigh you down a little, they’re also very useful while doing other stretches and exercises in the pool.

Water Fan Paddles

These devices are handheld rods that end in circular plastic fans. Similar in function to webbed gloves, they add resistance to your arm movements in the water. For a beginner exercise, try extending your arms to the sides and then attempt to clap with them, then repeat. It’s a great way to weight train without the weights.

Water Weights

Speaking of weights, water weights are a little different than normal dumbbells. Essentially a floatation device with a handle, these dumbbells are usually made of foam (or some other buoyant material), and exert force in the opposite direction of regular weights. In other words, while a gym weight might pull down, these pull up, allowing you to work different muscle groups than usual (like your triceps).

Resistance Bands

Lastly, resistance bands aren’t pool-only exercise equipment, but they tend to function just as well in the water. For a basic exercise, try standing on the band while holding the handles, and then stretching your arms out straight to the sides. It’s an excellent way to tone your muscles without adding undue stress on your joints.

For those who want to shake up their workouts, or for those who are looking for exercises that are easier on their body, water-based fitness can be an excellent option. And with the above swimming pool exercise equipment, you’ll always be able to get the level of intensity you need from each session.

29
Jan

How Swimming Lessons Improve Your Water Sport Performance

Swimming is an excellent form of exercise. At least, it is when done properly. Most of us learn the basics of how to swim in our childhood. The problem is, once we develop the ability to tread water, stay afloat, and go from one side of the pool to the other, we tend to leave it at that, neglecting further training that could increase our proficiency.

Just as children riding a bike differ in technique from Tour de France athletes, there’s a measurable difference in the way beginner swimmers and those with higher proficiency perform in the water. With the right technique, a swimmer can go farther faster and burn more calories while expending less effort. Perhaps most importantly, a more experienced swimmer has more fun in the water and swims with more confidence.

So how can you become a more proficient swimmer? The same way you probably learned how to swim in the first place: learn from someone more practiced than yourself. Swimming lessons aren’t just for those still learning the doggy paddle. At any level of proficiency, swimming training can help you sand off the edges of your technique and make you a more capable swimmer.

Still not convinced? Here are five ways swimming training can benefit you in your swimming workouts.

water sport performance

Photo Credit: Pinosub

Speed

Those who are competition-bound will be happy to know that improvements in technique can drastically increase your swimming speed. A good portion of your speed is based not on sheer strength or endurance, but on how much resistance you have to fight against in the water. Swimming techniques were designed specifically to reduce drag and maximize the productivity of each stroke.

By taking lessons and working on your technique, you can improve your ability to minimize resistance, thereby allowing the strength and endurance you have to take you farther while conserving energy.

Efficiency

There’s a significant difference in the efficiency of swim techniques between those with refined techniques and those with beginner-level proficiency. For one, untrained swimmers use twice as much oxygen than trained and elite swimmers when performing the same stroke. A better stroke also produces more propulsion per stroke than one that’s less refined.

In other words, for those who are less proficient swimmers, there’s a lot more splashing and a lot more panting, but a lot less actual swimming. This can be problematic for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the discouragement that comes with putting a great deal of effort into moving a comparatively short distance.

Safety

One of the most important reasons to learn to swim (and to learn to swim better) is for safety. If you fall out of a boat while on a lake, a river, or out in open water, it’s important to have the skills necessary to survive long enough to be rescued or to swim to shore. If swimming to shore seems a bit far-fetched, it’s important to keep in mind that people have been swimming distances as long as the English Channel (about 21 miles) since the late 1800s.

While we’re not saying that everyone should have the conditioning to swim three-fourths of a marathon, not all of that feat is accomplished by swimming conditioning alone. As mentioned above, a great deal of it has to do with the speed and efficiency of the stroke used. In other words, you can do a lot to improve your odds of survival without having to hit the pool every day.

Confidence

One of the most important reasons to swim is because of the joy of the sport. Swimming can be a great deal of fun, an incredible stress reliever, and an excellent social activity, but it’s difficult to achieve that if you’re too focused on how hard you have to work at it, or worse yet, how unskilled you think you look compared to others.

It doesn’t have to be all drudgery and dread. With a little training, your swimming workouts can be full of confident exertion, keeping pace with (or even setting the pace of) those you swim with.

Better Exercise

At this point it may go without saying, but it bears mentioning anyway. With the proper technique, your swimming will be better exercise than before. While it’s true that the proper swimming training and conditioning helps your swimming be more efficient by spending less energy to move around in the water, it also allows you to move farther without getting winded so easily, prompting you to work out for longer than you would otherwise.

By increasing your speed, your efficiency, and how much fun you’re having when you swim, you’ll become more willing to push yourself and try harder, rather than waiting for the moment you can quit and hit the showers. That results are more calories burned, and better swimming workouts overall.

Swim lessons can do so much to improve your swim and your enjoyment of it. You have much to gain from a little training, and virtually nothing to lose. So consider continuing your swimming training, and get started with swim lessons at SwimJim, where we can help you make the most of your water-based workouts.

22
Jan

Swimmers Diet: How to Eat Like a Champ

swimmers dietPhoto Credit: adanv1

It may not look like it at first glance, but swimming is an energy-intensive sport. Because of the resistance the water exerts on the body as a person tries to move through it, swimmers tend to burn far more calories than athletes who exercise on terra firma, so a good swimmer’s diet is crucial. Depending on factors such as weight, swim stroke, and level of activity, it’s entirely possible to burn almost 1,000 calories in a single hour of swimming.

When you’re dealing with that much of an energy expenditure, you need to be refueling your body properly in order to maintain performance levels. Failing to consume the proper foods at the proper times, or even in the right portions can leave you feeling weak, drowsy, bogged down, or otherwise struggling to do your best.

Cultivating a healthy swimmer’s body requires building a healthy swimmer’s diet, and both men and women will find better results by managing their diet effectively. Here are some tips for those looking to learn how to do just that.

Before the Workout

No matter what swimmer body type you are, with regards to making sure you’re fueled up for a practice or a competition, when you eat is about as important as what you eat. In essence, you should never swim on an empty stomach. This all starts with a good pre-workout meal, as failing to eat before swimming will rob you of energy, making your performance suffer dramatically.

What you eat and how much you eat depends on how intense of a workout you’re planning, and how long it will be between the meal and the workout. During training, many athletes are hitting the pool at 5:00 AM, which makes it difficult to eat a hearty breakfast two hours prior. In these situations, you’ll want something small and easily digestible, preferably paring carbohydrates with some simple protein. Here are some examples:

  • A bagel with cream cheese
  • Some yogurt and an apple
  • A small bowl of cereal and milk
  • A banana and peanut butter

These foods (in small quantities) will digest quickly while still giving your metabolism the fuel it needs to power your body.

If you have the opportunity to eat a real meal in advance, you’ll want to plan your plate accordingly. Expect to fill at least half your plate with complex carbohydrates:

  • Rice
  • Pasta
  • Potatoes
  • Cereal and other grain-based foods
  • Beans
  • Peas
  • Lentils

These carbs are what actually fuel your body’s activity, so you want to make sure you’re eating enough of them. Again, pair your carbs with lean, healthy protein sources like fish, eggs, white meat, and dairy. These will be important for muscle building and muscle recovery, so don’t be stingy with these either.

To balance your diet and ensure you’re getting the micronutrients you need, you’ll also need to include vegetables and healthy fats in your meals. Most vegetables are fair game and can be eaten in large quantities, but try to focus specifically on veggies with a strong color—dark green, or something equally vibrant. For fats, foods like nuts, seeds, avocados, and just about any oil that’s liquid at room temperature will serve you well.

During the Workout

Just as skipping food before hitting the water is a bad idea, failing to eat during a long swim will make it difficult to maintain energy levels. If you’re going to be in the pool for hours on end, you can’t expect your body to run on an empty tank, so you’ll want to bring some snacks with you. The key is to have the right snacks.

If you’re going to be moving almost constantly, you’re not going to want to bog down your digestive system with something heavy, so pick snacks that mimic what you eat before a five-in-the-morning workout: fruits (especially berries), nuts, dark chocolate, yogurt, slices of toast, vegetables, etc.

If you’ll be having decent breaks in between your bouts of physical exertion you can offer your stomach something more substantial. Try cheese sticks, sliced meat, cereal, protein or energy bars, and so forth. In either case, you’ll want something on hand to rehydrate yourself, with water, fruit juice, and sports drinks being the best choices.

Also, gauge your portions off of the time to your next dip in the pool, and don’t overeat. Trying to pack too much in before you start swimming again will only cause you digestive distress.

After the Workout

Lastly, once you’ve completed your workout in the pool, you still need to refuel. Besides what you eat before and during your practice or competition, the most important meal you eat is the one right after a workout, as failing to refuel properly will negatively impact your recovery.

In your post-workout meal, your macronutrients should be your priority. Skimping on carbs after an arduous swim session will only hamper you in returning to pre-workout energy levels. Similarly, the damage you’ve done to your muscles will be difficult to repair if you’re not filling up on protein, so go for those lean meats and dairy products again. Add in some vegetables and healthy fats, and you have yourself a solid recovery meal.

Throughout the rest of the day, you’ll want to make sure you’re getting enough vitamins and minerals (preferably from food, rather than supplements), and you’ll want to make sure your calorie intake can keep up with your output. While you’re not likely to need Michael Phelps’s 12,000 calories a day, you will start losing weight you may have intended to keep if you don’t maintain your intake, so get used to eating more than normal.

Whether your swimmer body type is male or female, it takes some effort to build a healthy swimmer’s diet, but you’ll be thanking yourself when you find you have the body of a swimmer. More importantly, you’ll see your best performance when you’re fueling your body properly, so experiment a little, and find the regiment that’s best for you.

15
Jan

How to Prevent and Treat Swimmer’s Ear

Swimmer’s ear can be mildly annoying or excruciatingly painful, and is not limited to swimmers. Any exposure to water, like hot tubs or long soaks in the bath, can result in water being trapped in the ear. If you believe you have swimmer’s ear, see your doctor as soon as possible for diagnosis and swimmer’s ear treatment. Once you feel better, you can follow these simple tips to prevent swimmer’s ear in the future.

What’s Swimmer’s Ear?

Otitis externa, or swimmer’s ear, is a bacterial infection of the outer ear canal. How do you get swimmer’s ear? It is caused by water getting trapped in the outer ear, creating the moist environment needed for bacteria to grow. Swimmer’s ear can also be caused when the lining of the outer ear gets irritated. Irritants can include cotton swabs and other foreign objects like car keys or hairpins being used to clean the ear. Hair products can also irritate the ear lining.

Certain skin conditions can exacerbate irritation of the ear lining thereby increasing the probability of swimmer’s ear. If you suffer from psoriasis, seborrhea, or very dry skin, you should take extra caution with your ears.

swimmers ear

Photo Credit: Aleksej Sarifulin

What are the Symptoms of Swimmer’s Ear?

Doctors usually diagnose swimmer’s ear as mild, moderate, or advanced, depending on the severity of the symptoms. Mild swimmer’s ear symptoms can include:

  • Mild discomfort of outer ear
  • Mild itching
  • Slight redness
  • Discharge of clear fluid

Swimmer’s ear progresses to moderate when the symptoms worsen to:

  • More intense itching
  • Increased pain in ear and down neck
  • Redness increases
  • Discharge becomes excessive and turns to pus
  • Ear feels blocked

A severe swimmer’s ear diagnosis is made if:

  • The pain becomes very intense
  • Redness increases and is accompanied by swelling
  • There is a complete blockage of the ear canal
  • Fever accompanies symptoms
  • Lymph nodes become inflamed

What is the Treatment for Swimmer’s Ear?

Even a mild case of swimmer’s ear should be taken seriously and treated by a medical professional to ensure that it does not progress in severity—which can lead to long-lasting or even permanent damage.

Antibiotic ear drops are usually the first course of swimmer’s ear treatment ordered by the doctor. Make sure your ears are clear and that you are allowing the drops to fully saturate. The best way to administer a dose is to lie on your side and have someone put the drops in for you, then remain that way for a few minutes. If ear drops alone do not clear up swimmer’s ear, then an oral antibiotic and/or steroid drops may be added.

How Can You Prevent Swimmer’s Ear?

If you are wondering how to get rid of swimmer’s ear, you may want to learn how to prevent it from happening in the first place. There are a number of things you can do to prevent swimmer’s ear including:

  • KEEP YOUR EARS DRY. This is the primary rule in the prevention of swimmer’s ear. Gently dry the outer ear with a towel as you tilt your head to drain water from the ear. You can also use a blow dryer on its coolest setting, held at least a foot away from your ear—but be cautious with this technique.
  • Do not stick any foreign objects in your ears for any reason. This will only irritate the lining. Make sure hearing aids and earbuds are clean and safe.
  • Use drops before and after swimming or prolonged exposure to water. A couple drops of rubbing alcohol after swimming can promote drying, but do this in moderation as excessive drying can lead to further irritation. Olive oil can keep the ear lubricated and repel water.
  • Use earplugs that are for swimming or that will definitely keep water out of the ear canal. Do not use foam plugs that are used for sound resistance, as they will just fill with water.
  • Pay attention to notices about bacterial conditions of the water. If bacteria is high, do not swim.
  • Maintain good ear wax hygiene. You need ear wax, it keeps water out. If necessary, ask your doctor to irrigate your ears for you.
  • Protect the inner ear from irritants like hair products by putting cotton balls or earplugs in when spraying or applying.

Swimmer’s ear treatment is not difficult, but having an advanced case of swimmer’s ear can be a miserable experience. Now that you know how you get swimmer’s ear and how to get rid of swimmer’s ear, you can do all you can to prevent it from ever happening.

8
Jan

Which Waterproof Smart Watch Should I Use for Swimming?

Swimming is one of the best forms of exercise. It is less jarring for muscles and joints, it works all muscle groups for a total body workout, it improves your core strength, and is an excellent cardiovascular workout. If you want to track your progress and improve your technique, there are a number of excellent waterproof smart watches on the market.

smart watch for swimming

Photo Credit: lucadp

Moov Now

While this waterproof smart watch is pretty bare bones when it comes to bells and whistles, it is one of the best for swimmers, particularly for its price. It’s one of the least expensive waterproof smart watches, and as such you do not get fancy displays or real-time feedback while you are in the pool. Your workout has to be started from the app on your phone, so that too is a bit of a drawback. It’s still excellent for swimmers, particularly if you work out in a pool, as the maximum depth is lower than most at 30 meters (98.4 feet).

The Moov Now tracks a lot of swim data, including your number of strokes, stroke type, turn time, and even pauses and breaks. These metrics can all be viewed in the Android app on your phone. The best feature of this waterproof smart watch is its coaching advice. Not only can you view your trends, but the Moov Now will also give you tips on how you can improve your swim workout.

The lower cost of this waterproof smart watch makes it an ideal choice as a waterproof kids smart watch.

Garmin Fenix 5

On the opposite end of the pricing scale is the Garmin Fenix 5 waterproof smart watch. This is for the serious athlete: tri-athletes, weekend warriors, Tough Mudders, and all other hardcore workout enthusiasts. The Fenix 5 is one of the larger watches/fitness trackers, so it may be more appropriate as a men’s waterproof smart watch; however, Garmin understands that women are just as tough as men when it comes to workouts. Smaller bands are available to make this an awesome women’s waterproof smart watch.

The Garmin Fenix 5 has one of the highest ratings for waterproof smart watches at 10 ATM, which is 100 meters or 328 feet, so it is good for deep sea activities like scuba diving. The display on this waterproof smart watch is phenomenal; bright vivid colors are easy to view. Not only does the Fenix 5 have a heart rate monitor, but it is also very reliable and provides great feedback. With superb analytics and customizable features, the Garmin Fenix 5 is the luxury car of the waterproof smart watch world.

Apple Watch Series 4

Don’t worry Apple fans, there’s a magnificent waterproof smart watch for you! The Apple Watch Series 4 is wonderful for multi-sport fitness tracking, and its swim tracking capabilities are excellent. The Apple Watch 4 will work in pool workouts or open water swims. Like most good waterproof smart watches, it has stroke detection along with other workout tracking as well as a heart rate monitor, GPS, and an accelerometer. The accelerometer is very important for those who are into competitive swimming, as it measures the force of your stroke and turns.

Waterproof up to 50 meters (164 feet), the Apple Watch is a reliable fitness tracker. The Series 3 is also an excellent choice–it just has a slightly larger style, but with a smaller screen. The display on the Series 4 is also much more vibrant than the Series 3.

Fitbit Versa

When one thinks of fitness trackers, many people immediately hear the name “Fitbit.” The Fitbit Versa is a moderately-priced waterproof smart watch for Android devices that will work very well for casual swimmers. The Versa has a 5 ATM (50 meters) waterproof rating. Its display is nice and bright, so you can easily get feedback during your swim, but the data accessible on the watch itself is limited. However, with the use of the app you can get a lot more data post-workout.

Samsung Galaxy Watch

One of the best features of this waterproof smart watch for Android is its long battery life, making it ideal for extended outdoor adventures. Its 4-day battery will keep you charged and tracking your swim time, along with other workouts. Samsung has partnered with Speedo to not only improve the swim tracking capabilities of this waterproof smart watch, but also created a partnering app that tracks the fastest length, swim pace, calories burned, and heart rate, along with many other swim metrics. The Samsung Gear Fit Pro 2 is also available at a slightly lower cost. It has a sleek curved look and feel, but does not track quite as much data. The Gear Fit Pro 2 is also partnered with Speedo.

Swimming is a refreshing way to achieve and maintain optimal health, as well as ground your spirit for an overall sense of well-being. A good waterproof smart watch will help you amp up your workout without creating waves.

1
Jan

What to Do When You Get Shoulder Pain from Swimming

If you’re a swimmer who’s experienced pain in your shoulders, neck, or anywhere in the upper limbs, you’re not alone. Those who regularly swim are highly likely to experience an overuse injury at some point in their life. In fact, studies show that male elite swimmers reported 4.00 injuries per 1,000 hours of training, and female elite swimmers reported 3.78 injuries per 1,000 hours of training. Of those injuries, 40-91 percent were in the shoulder area.

swimming shoulder injury

Photo Credit: Marcus Ng

What Causes Swimmer’s Shoulder?

Also called impingement syndrome, this type of swimming injury is commonly known as swimmer’s shoulder. The syndrome is defined as any overuse injury in the shoulder area due to swimming. Injuries can range from a minor annoyance to a severe impediment, including tendonitis, rotator cuff tears, ligament damage, and more. Injuries can be localized in the shoulder or spread with pain in the neck or arm.

No matter the severity or location of pain, almost all swimmer’s shoulder injuries spring from rotator cuff tendons becoming inflamed or irritated. This can happen when a swimmer engages in excessive training, uses improper technique, or has other existing shoulder injuries.

Swimmer’s shoulder can also occur due to undeveloped muscles or weak ligaments and tendons in the shoulder.

How Can You Treat Swimmer’s Shoulder?

Luckily, there are a variety of treatments to minimize problems due to swimmer’s shoulder. Read on for ideas on ways to manage pain and prevent future injury.

Use the RICE Technique

As with many injuries, the acronym RICE is helpful for immediate treatment in the early phases of swimmer’s shoulder: rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Compression can be accomplished with a sling or tape. To keep the shoulder area elevated, you may need to sleep with several pillows to prop you up at night. Following these steps should bring a bit more comfort to anyone experiencing shoulder pain swimming.

Manage Pain with Anti-Inflammatories

Anti-inflammatory medication will help to reduce inflammation of the rotator cuff and relieve pain. You’ll want to choose a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID), such as ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin). Your doctor may recommend an over-the-counter NSAID like naproxen (Aleve). Note that this is a short-term resolution to manage pain. If swimming shoulder injuries continue over a long period or increase in severity, consult your doctor about other options to treat the pain.

Stretch and Massage

There are many different massage techniques to help reduce pain from swimmer’s shoulder. Any type of sports massage will help to reduce soreness and stretch muscles and connective tissues. This should prevent the pain from worsening and help with relaxation. If you choose to get a massage, be sure to use a licensed professional and stay hydrated before and after the massage.

Is Swimmer’s Shoulder Preventable?

If you have yet to experience swimmer’s shoulder or have recovered from swimmer’s shoulder in the past, there are many things you can do to avoid injury in the future. Here are a few techniques to try.

Warm Up Properly

Like all types of exercise, warming up is key to preventing injury. But many swimmers do not use the proper methods to warm up before their swim. To avoid overuse problems, try muscle activation exercises that target the muscles you’ll be using in the pool, such as the rotator cuff and scap stabilizers. Some example exercises are arm circles and “Standing T’s” (raise arms out to the side, parallel to the ground, and squeeze the shoulder blades together).

Strengthen Other Muscle Groups

Many swimmers focus on strengthening the same muscles they’ll be working hard in the water. But research shows that it’s also important to strengthen support muscles that are often in a weaker state since they don’t get used as much while swimming. Spend time working out opposing muscle groups to really improve your swim performance and avoid injury.

Take Recovery Seriously

Elite swimmers spend hours and hours in the pool every week. They may think hard about their time in the pool, but the recovery time on dry land is just as important. Swimmers should recover by getting proper nutrition (including protein and carbs), as well as adding post-swim stretches to increase mobility and promote blood flow. You’ll be more equipped to take on the next swimming session when you recover properly.

Learn New Swim Strokes

By following these tips for pain management and prevention of swimmer’s shoulder, you’ll be able to maximize your time in the pool and enjoy better swim performance with minimal pain and injury. Another excellent way to avoid swimming shoulder injuries is by practicing many different swimming strokes. Each stroke has its own advantages, so using a variety of styles will strengthen your shoulders and help you avoid swimming with shoulder injury. Learn about these different swimming strokes and styles from the experts at SwimJim today.

25
Dec

How Swimming Increases Your Endurance

swimming increases endurance

Photo Credit: Wynand van Poortvliet

If you’ve ever watched Michael Phelps swim during the Olympics, you’ve probably marveled at how fast he is. Phelps was decently fast at short-distance, or sprint, swimming, but his real talent was in endurance swimming. By utilizing the unique ways that swimming conditioned his body, Phelps was able to build both endurance and speed as he practiced.

We can’t promise that you’ll ever win an Olympic gold medal, but we can show you ways that you can increase swimming endurance for yourself. In addition to being a great total-body workout, swimming is a great way to get anaerobic exercise and increase your lungs’ capacity. Swimming is also a low-impact sport, meaning that it’s much easier on your knees, and because it’s usually an individual sport, you can train at your own pace. Here are ways to use swimming to increase your overall physical endurance.

  1. Swimming uses cross-training

Cross-training is a pretty general term–the more dedicated swimmers sometimes refer to this as “dryland.” Essentially, cross-training of any kind means that athletes take a short break from their specialty sport and try a different sport or some type of other exercise that they don’t normally do. By trying other exercises, athletes develop muscles and gain skills that make them faster and stronger at their specialty sport. For swimmers, this means doing anything that’s not in the water (hence “dryland”). Cross-training can range from jump rope to yoga to weights and anything in between. As these types of exercises help strengthen underused muscles, they also give swimmers a break from the muscles they typically use in their swimming routines. This combination of dryland and swimming offers athletes a way to increase endurance in all muscle groups for a total body workout.

  1. Swimming increases your aerobic capabilities

Building swimming endurance requires top-notch aerobic capabilities. Swimming is usually considered an aerobic exercise because you’re consistently and regularly breathing, and your body can intake the needed oxygen to sustain exercise for extended lengths of time. To become better at endurance swimming, you’ll need to master your body’s aerobic exercise techniques to make sure that your body can more efficiently intake and retain oxygen.

One way to do this is to simply swim longer distances at the same pace. However, one trick to help your lungs increase their aerobic capacity faster is to use breathing techniques. One breathing technique is “bilateral breathing.” Bilateral breathing means that you alternate breathing on both your right and left sides. To increase aerobic capacity, try completing three strokes, breathing, and then completing five strokes and breathing again. When you feel like you can swim without getting lightheaded, try adding more strokes in between each breath. The longer you can go without breathing, the more efficient your body is getting at utilizing oxygen. The better you get at aerobic activity, the better you’ll be at all aerobic sports.

  1. Swimming uses a variety of equipment

Swimming is a great way to increase your body’s overall endurance. Especially with a variety of available equipment, you can get a total body workout easily. For one of your swimming practices, you can use flippers and focus exclusively on kicking. You can also add small weights to your wrists or ankles to increase muscle strength while you swim. These exercises can help you increase your endurance in swimming, but the muscle mass you gain will give you a competitive edge in other sports, too.

  1. Swimming uses a lot of repetition

Building swimming endurance–or endurance for any sport–doesn’t happen in a day. It takes a lot of practice. If you take a break for an extended period of time, you can lose all your progress. Experts recommend swimming at least three times a week at a minimum to keep your abilities up. To increase swimming endurance, you can also do “ladders” during your workout. If you haven’t done ladders before, the concept is that you gradually increase then decrease the distances in your workout. Begin with three laps, take a short break, then do five laps, have a break, then seven laps. After that, slowly work your way down again. As you increase endurance, you can bump up your top number of laps at your highest ladder. This kind of repetition is essential for all sports, especially running, so the skills transfer well.

  1. Swimming is better than leg day

Swimming is an excellent exercise for your legs. The nonstop kicking will tone your muscles in no time. Many of the same cross-training concepts apply here: the stronger your legs get at swimming, the more the muscles will develop to help you in other sports. Swimming is also unique because it uses such a variety of muscles in your legs. Depending on the type of kicks you use, you can focus on quads, inner thighs, or hamstrings.

  1. Core body strength is essential to swimming

If you’re a swimmer, you’re guaranteed to have good core body strength. Core body strength is essential in building swimming endurance. Both abs and lower back muscles are used to keep your body balanced in the water and keep opposite arms and legs coordinated in front stroke.

  1. Upper body strength is unparalleled

For a true upper body strength workout, there are very few workouts that can compare to swimming. Especially if you’re a swimmer who specializes in front stroke or breast stroke, you’re already doing well on your deltoids and lats. Breaststroke and butterfly increase your endurance in deltoids, pecs, and biceps, and backstroke works all of your shoulder muscles.

By using these methods to increase swimming endurance, you’ll be well on your way to better fitness. You’ll be able to swim longer distances faster, and many of the physical abilities you gain from endurance swimming can translate to other physical activities. For more ways to build endurance swimming, check out these swimming strokes that are designed to build your endurance in the water. If you’d like to start building swimming endurance, even if you’re just a beginner, contact SwimJim today!

18
Dec

How to Improve your Swimming Technique

When you’re training for a triathlon, the hardest part to train for is often the swimming portion. Though you may know how to swim and have a basic swimming technique mastered, triathlon swim training is different. Since it’s a more advanced and rigorous swim, it’s important that you brush up on your swimming skills before you compete in a triathlon. If you love to swim but never made it past beginners lessons, set a goal to learn more. Just like for triathlon trainees, setting a goal to improve your swimming technique can really help you excel.

improve swimming technique

Photo Credit: Goh Rhy Yan

If you know how to swim, that’s a great place to start. Head to the pool and practice what you know. Once you’ve brushed up on what you do know, learn the following eight swimming styles and strokes. Triathlon enthusiasts and fans of swimming alike will find these strokes to be helpful.

Swimming Technique 201

Whether you’re headed to the pool to train like a champion or learn how to swim better to meet a personal goal, there are a few universal swimming techniques that can help every swimmer improve. Talk with a swim coach or take a professional class if you are serious about learning how to really excel in the world of water sports. Swimming lessons are not just for little kids. Swimming is an important skill to have that can keep you safe and help you keep others safe as well, and there are many tips and tricks you can follow for better swimming.

No matter how you go about pursuing your goal of improving your swimming technique, make sure to take some time to write it down. Keep the goal in a place where you can see it often so the reminder can motivate you to just keep swimming.

Safety First

Though the water is an amazing place, it is important to remember that safety should always come first when swimming. Whether it’s triathlon swim training or basic swimming, always make sure that you are being safe. When we keep the pool, open water, or lake safe, swimming can be a fun and exciting experience. Listen to your body — if you’re exhausted, take a break. It’s also important to be up to date on CPR and other first aid practices.

Head On

When you want to swim correctly and fine-tune your swimming technique, it’s important that you use correct head position. Novice swimmers will be tempted to move their heads around or look forward as they swim, but this is a dangerous technique that slows you down. Correct head position is a natural head position. Keep your head aligned with your body and with your face directly parallel to the bottom of the pool. Besides when you turn your head to come up for air, it is important that you keep looking down.

Breathe In

Breathing is another area that some swimmers struggle with, and when you do it incorrectly you may strain your neck. Lifting your head when you come up for air is not a good idea. When you lift your head above the water you mess with your correct head positioning, which can cause your legs and hips to drop lower. This slows you down and makes it harder to get back into the groove after a breath. Instead of straining your neck to lift your head, simply turn your entire body slightly sideways and roll your head to the side while you swim. Your mouth is the only part of your head that really needs to clear the water, so don’t worry about getting your whole face out.

Breathe Out

Learning how to breath as a swimmer is hard enough, but you have to learn how to properly exhale as well. Though it may seem counterintuitive to newer swimmers, it is important that you time your exhales under water. It takes a little getting used to, but with a little practice, you should nail this habit.

By exhaling underwater you save yourself time and energy. Even if you want to wait to exhale when you go up for your next breath, don’t. This drastically slows you down and gives your competitors a serious advantage.

Side to Side

When you swim on your sides, you give yourself a competitive edge. Throughout the stroke cycle, roll your shoulders and hips from side to side. Your shoulders and back are lined with powerful muscles that don’t get used when you swim too flat. And though flat swimming is a great way to learn how to swim, if you’re looking to train for a triathlon or become a novice swimmer, rolling strokes side to side is a must. This concept is best learned when seen and then put into action. If you need to, have a local coach show you how to properly roll your strokes side to side, or watch a few YouTube clips of famous swimmers — then get to the pool and start practicing.

Kick Kick Kick

Just as there are different swimming strokes for your arms, there are different kicking patterns for your legs, too. When you learn all the strokes and kick patterns, you give yourself all the tools you need to create a stroke that plays to your strengths in a triathlon race and helps you swim fast while conserving energy.

Brush up on all your kicks and learn what each kick is best for. For example, the Two Beat Kick is great for long distances because it is steady, powerful, and helps you conserve energy. During a long race, you need every ounce of energy you can get, so it’s important to kick bad kicking habits to the curb.

As you advance your swimming technique and learn how to swim better, keep your end goal in mind. If you find yourself getting discouraged, take heart. Even the best of the best have been where you are now. Keep practicing, keep learning, and above all — keep swimming.

11
Dec

Swimming & Depression: A Natural Treatment for Depression

swimming to treat depressionAs one of the most popular sports in the US, the sport of swimming offers an array of benefits to both physical and mental health and wellness. Some of the top reasons why swimming is an all-around great sport include:

  • It can be a low- or high-intensity cardio workout without stressing or impacting your bones or joints like running
  • It helps to quickly build endurance, muscle strength, and cardiovascular health
  • Not only does it help you maintain a healthy weight, but it also keeps your heart and lungs healthy, too
  • It’s a great way to keep your body strong and toned
  • The workout itself requires the work of nearly every muscle in your body

In addition to these perks, swimming can also be a relaxing and peaceful exercise that helps alleviate stress. Because it’s a low-impact sport, swimming can improve everything from coordination and flexibility to balance and posture. Moreover, swimming is hugely beneficial as therapy for an array of injuries and physical and mental conditions.

While the physical benefits of swimming are undeniable, many people don’t realize just how much of a positive impact the sport can have on mental health. In this article, you’ll learn how swimming is and can be used as a natural remedy for depression.

What Is Depression?

Depression, or major depressive disorder as it’s called in medical circles, is a common and serious medical mental illnesses that affects at least 16.2 million adults in the United States. Though treatable, depression causes individuals to experience feelings of sadness and/or to lose interest in activities that they’ve previously enjoyed. If gone untreated, this illness can present an array of different symptoms including:

  • Feelings of sadness
  • Experiencing a prolonged depressed mood
  • Losing interest or pleasure in previously enjoyed activities
  • Changes in appetite that cause weight loss or weight gain
  • Sleeping issues – too much or not enough
  • Intense fatigue or abnormal decrease in energy
  • Difficulties concentrating, focusing, or making decisions
  • Suicidal thoughts or thoughts of death  

In order to be diagnosed with depression, patients must experience these symptoms for at least two weeks, at which point doctors typically prescribe medication to help balance out these mental and physical symptoms. While antidepressants can – and do – help reduce serious depression symptoms, it can result in many unwanted side effects like nausea, increased appetite and weight gain, loss of sexual desire, fatigue and drowsiness, insomnia, and more.

If you struggle with depression or have been treated for depression in the past, you may have experienced what many patients often do when prescribed anti-depression medication: feelings of fogginess, dizziness, or even numbness. While the medicine might be doing its job to treat depression, there are alternative means of treating this illness other than prescription drugs. Swimming, for example, is scientifically proven to be a natural antidepressant.

How Swimming Is a Natural Treatment for Depression

A study released in the British Medical Journal outlines how swimming weekly in cold water can, within four months, deem depression patients drug- and symptom-free. Though an unconventional means of treatment, scientists are finding that swimming can prove beneficial for those who struggle with depression but don’t want to be treated medicinally.

The study found that by immersing the body in cold water, the immediate cooling of the skin actually shocks the body. This shock triggers stress responses in the body. After multiple, repeated cold water exposure, the body actually adapts to the exposure in a process referred to as habituation. One of the theories behind this stress-triggered response is that swimming in cold water alters the way your conscious mind reacts to stressful situations. Instead of reacting with feelings of depression and anxiety, your body instead learns to respond in a logical and stress-free manner.

While studies are ongoing to delve deeper into water therapy for depression, swimming in general – regardless of the water temperature – can do wonders for reducing the severity of depression. Below you’ll find how swimming can have positive mental and physical effects that help to offset the symptoms of depression.

Psychological Benefits of Swimming

When it comes to swimming and depression, it’s important to take into account the physiological effects of the exercise. Hard, intense swimming workouts cause the body to release endorphins, which are the “happy, feel-good” chemicals in your brain. These endorphins counteract any fight-or-flight stress hormones by transforming them into hormones that instead help the body to relax. Furthermore, swimming is shown to boost “hippocampal neurogenesis,” or the growth of new brain cells that help prevent breakdowns during times of chronic stress.

Physical Benefits of Swimming

Like many natural remedies for depression, swimming can have profound physical effects. In order to swim, the body must complete a repetitive cycle that alternates between the stretching and relaxation of skeletal muscles, as well as a deep, rhythmic breathing pattern. These key components of swimming are similar to that of exercises like yoga and progressive muscle relaxation, which are designed to evoke a stress-free response. After ample practice, these movements become habitual and intuitive, providing the brain with a break from the unpleasantries that often fuel depressive behaviors.   

If you’re struggling with how to treat depression, consider starting a regular swimming regimen as a natural remedy for depression. While the effects may not be immediate, chances are very high that you’ll experience the undeniable benefits in the long run. If nothing else, you’ll be able to practice a full-body workout that doesn’t just exercise your heart, lungs, and muscles, but also gives your brain some much-needed reprieve, too. Get started with treating your depression today by learning about these eight different styles and strokes you can use while swimming.