Because of the mechanics of swimming, regular swimmers are prone to developing a hunch in their shoulders and upper back over time. This translates into poor posture—a problem many of us contend with these days anyway due to all the time we spend sitting at a desk, operating a computer, and using our phones and other mobile devices. Frequent swimming is yet another lifestyle factor that can exacerbate posture problems.
And lousy posture is a problem. It’s not just an aesthetic concern. Poor posture can cause headaches, back aches, hip and knee pain, and other physical discomfort, and it increases wear and tear on your joints and ligaments. It also crowds the organs, making them work less efficiently, potentially inhibiting the digestive system, breathing, and other essential bodily functions.
Here are some pointers that help preserve and improve posture for swimmers. Use them on a daily basis to protect yourself against your susceptibility to posture problems as an avid swimmer.
How to Improve Posture for Swimmers
- Remain conscious about standing up straight, with your legs slightly apart, your knees unlocked, your back straight as if it were against a wall, your shoulders pushed back, and your chin up. Don’t let your butt or hips protrude.
- Sit up straight, too. Keep your back straight, shoulders back, chin up, knees and feet pointing forward, knees bent at a 90-degree angle, and feet flat on the floor. Position a rolled-up towel in the curve of your spine for support when you’re sitting for a prolonged period.
- Don’t hunch over or drop your head and neck down to use your phone or other mobile device for long. Sit back and hold it up at eye level.
- Do exercises that strengthen your core as part of your fitness regimen. And don’t feel limited to dry-land workouts; there are in-water exercises to strengthen your core, too. These build the muscles you need to maintain proper posture, and they also happen to be great for improving your swim technique and increasing your swim speed and stamina.
- Work out on a rowing machine and/or do other pulling exercises to strengthen the back of your shoulders, and thus prevent and counteract the slouching shoulders that swimmers develop.
- Sleep on a firm mattress. If you sleep on your back, use a thin pillow under your neck; if you sleep on your side, use a pillow under your head that’s thick enough to hold it level with your spine.