Can Swimming Help Muscle Recovery?

Taking a swim or just being active in the water in general is a great time. Almost everyone I know who aren’t even swimmers including myself loves a nice refreshing swim or workout in the water.

But for someone who has training as a big part of their life they look at every activity differently even a swim.

They wonder if it will interfere with their ability to or the results of their weight training and main workout routine. They wonder if doing said activity would take away from add to or not relate to their training regimen. .

Especially if someone has just weight trained recently one of the questions that would come to mind before they step into the pool would be can swimming help muscle recovery? If someone was to ask me this, I would have to say hands down yes.

Swimming and nearly any kind of being active in the water during rest can help in rehabilitation for injuries and is very effective in helping your muscles and body recover from big day to day workouts.

How Does Swimming Help Muscle Recovery?

There are multiple benefits a swimming workout and being active in the water has on the body during rest when it comes to muscle recovery.

One that should be talked about right off the bat is the fact that swimming can cool you down after training. Being in a pool is refreshing and can bring you to a normal body temperature as well as help you relax relieving both mental and physical stress which is the key goal of recovery especially for athletes. 

Due to the healthy promotion of circulation whilst moving through water your heart rate will be at least 10 beats lower while exercising through water compared to on land. This is very beneficial for your heart and will promote a healthy heart. 

Along with heart health the increasing circulation will also help flush out the lactic acid out of your muscles helping rid muscle pain and soreness along with any possible inflammation.

Swimming in itself and the strokes associated with it are forms of stretching in their own right which bring great benefit. Performing these forms of stretching will help relieve built up tension that may cause unwanted compression, stop joints from stiffening and support elasticity in the muscles. 

All these will help to decrease chance of injury and the better circulation will allow muscles to recover more efficiently and stop muscle deterioration as the blood and therefore the protein can get to your muscle faster. 

Best in Pool Movements for Recovery

There are a countless number of active movements and exercise methods you could do underwater to support your muscle and overall recovery but I have narrowed it down to three of what I believe to be the most important ones that could be done easily with little to no practice. 

Underwater Jog

The first exercise is going to be the underwater jog or water running as some may call it. A kind of self explanatory exercise in this one all you are doing is jogging or running while under water. Not completely under water as you still want to be breathing with access to air. 

I would say a good spot to start is about belly button level deep but definitely no higher then just under the chest. If you go deep enough to submerged your arms brush them through the water as you would the air when jogging on land.

This exercise is great method for improving cardio levels and blood flow to the muscles and taking tension away from your joints and muscles allowing for recovery.

Superman Stretch

The next exercise is a superman stretch. Another easy one to execute in this exercise you will be holding the end of the pool with both hands about shoulder width apart stretching out your entire body the opposite way using the water as support. 

The key to this one is keeping your body up and your back straight, not letting your body sink or twist. Be sure to push and kick your legs outward to really get that stretch and if you’re feeling elite push against the wall with your hands while of course maintaining grip for an improved version.

This exercise can be done for many minutes and really delivers a quality stretch to multiple muscles which mainly include your legs, shoulders and back.

Breast Stroke

The final movement I would highly recommend is the breast stroke. The breast stroke is one of if not the most common form of swimming and is in my opinion the simplest too. 

A swimmer in the middle of performing the breast stroke

Swimming Laps

Swimming laps will help you recover in almost every aspect from getting the blood flowing and relieving stress to stretching large groups of muscles and removing pressure.

The breast stroke would be my recommendation for doing these things as there is no risk of hyperextension through the range of motion and you can keep your back in generally the same relaxed position as you should when performing the breast stroke.

How Often Should I Swim For Muscle Recovery?

One of the best things about swimming is it is fun and for the most part you can do it as often as you want all the time without having to worry about it having a negative impact on your muscle recovery or performance.

You can do it anytime of day for as long as you want but I would avoid doing long intense sessions before hard workouts or an important sports game just to avoid a loss of glycogen stores leading to a negative impact in energy and fitness performance during said workout or sports game.

But as said a light pool workout for recovery will almost certainly not negatively effect performance as long as it is not high intensity and dragged out. Its simple just always have a plan.

Swimming is one of those sports and forms of exercise that requires constant practice in order to  get the precise movements down and excel at the technique especially if you want to build speed and be a good swimmer.

This is why I recommend a pool session at least two days a week but again as often as you want, you know your own body if you are too exhausted or sore to even operate save it for another time and have a nap for a couple hours maybe even go sleep.

When Swimming Does Not Help Recovery

As I may have drilled into your head by now swimming is great! And it seems like an exercising routine under water could never possibly do you wrong but this just isn’t true.

Swimming will not help recovery and may even cause harm if you are not doing it right and performing movements incorrectly or while injured.

It is important in any case that exercises and related movements are performed right but even more so when you are in the water. Imagine if you cramp up, break something or cause injury to your body in any way and are unable to swim while in deeper water then you are in trouble. 

Of course even more importantly always make sure someone is around while you are swimming. A life guard yes but i understand you may be swimming in a lake or your backyard so always ensure someone responsible is around.

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