Welcome back to Swimming Fearless gang, this week I want to talk about swimming and posture. I will focus on the importance of having a good posture in your day to day life and the way that this relates to swimming.
Swimming and Posture:
Before we dive into this week’s article, I’d like to begin by telling you a story of mine. I’ve never shared this story with anyone, but I would like to share it with you right now because I think it might help you.
When I was in Jr. High School, I began to get really into video games, like most young boys. Not only did I get into them, I became almost a little bit obsessed with them. And while I occasionally swam, I certainly wasn’t thinking about swimming and posture and the effect that video games were having on me.
Video Games and Posture:
If you don’t already know, the effect that video games can have on your posture is quite severe, especially when video game sessions last a few hours. Mine would almost always last that long.
When you play video games, it’s natural for your entire body to shift towards the thing that you are giving your full attention to. This meant that my neck began to inch forward closer to the screen, and my shoulders began to hike up to compensate for the shifted, unnatural neck position that I had begun to practice.
So, I played my video games. I wasn’t particularly confident around the opposite sex, so I most definitely wasn’t going to go chasing after them. And my other friends of the same age were ALSO into video games. So why was I going to be the one to do something different?
Anyways, I played video games, hours and hours every week and my posture began to deteriorate.
As High School Approached… Things Got Worse!
When I decided to become more physically active in high school, I got involved with my school’s swim team. This was natural for me, because I had always been a strong swimmer. And as I got more and more into it, I started doing practices where I would be doing 2-3 kilometers of front crawl every day!
At this same time, I has decided that I was really interested in meeting members of the opposite sex, but I wasn’t really sure how to approach it. So, I assumed that the easiest way to get a girl was going to be to get a better body.
Every day when I woke up, I vowed I would do 60 push-ups. Not the truly correct approach if you want a better body I now know, but what the hell did I know as a 16 year old kid? Hell, at least I was doing something to improve my situation.
Anyways, all of this physical activity was definitely a good choice after my 3 years in Jr. High lying around being a lazy piece of garbage.
The problem was that I had created a LANDMINE. My shoulders had very, very poor posture, and I was doing a lot of things that were further loading up muscular gains in places that didn’t need it. My shoulders were becoming dangerously imbalanced and I desperately needed to do some weighted rows in the gym to try and bring some order back to my shoulder joints.
Instead I pushed on, despite shoulder discomfort my body was screaming at me to get handled.
My Career-Ending Injury:
One day at practice when I was doing a flip turn, something tweaked in my shoulder. It was not good. I had torn something that I still have never identified to this day. But I had (pardon my French), royally fucked up my shoulder. I decided, meh, it’ll heal, I’ll be ok. I’ll just sit out practice a week.
And the crazy thing was, I actually got away with it. I sat out for a week, and then the following week, I kept busting out laps and finished the swimming season. I still wasn’t connecting the dots though. Despite a decrease in my performace in the water, I still did not wise up and seek a proper medical professional.
The Lesson… Physical Activity and Posture are Related!
Swimming and posture did have a relationship and were related. Not only that, but so are most forms of physical exercise.
After my last swimming season, I began to notice some serious problems with my shoulder. Shoulder impingement it’s called.
I couldn’t lift anything that weighed more than a feather behind my back. And I would get searing pain in my shoulder joint after dumping my groceries in the back seat. Something had to be done.
I won’t go through the dirty details more than I already have. But, long story short, I spent over $1000 towards various physiotherapists throughout the years to fix my shoulder(s). And it still isn’t like it was when I was young.
My thesis here? You need to take care of your body. The whole point of learning swimming for many people is to get healthier. And if that is the goal, why wouldn’t you remember that swimming when you have poor posture for hours can be dangerous?
Exercise that pushes your body can cause you injury if you are not performing the movement with proper technique. And poor posture makes it impossible to execute correct technique. This means that the longer you exercise with poor posture, the more risks you take before you find yourself injured.
And my biggest lesson here was that the poor posture could have been avoided. Simply maintaining good posture day in and day out and getting my back muscles stronger so that my shoulder blades would remain in a healthy position would have solved everything.
So my two take-aways for you today are:
- Don’t exercise only one muscle group. Do the “front” and the “back”
- Swimming/ Exercise that involves excessive repitition may cause injury if you don’t take care of your body
Let me know what you guys would like to hear next week in the comments below!
If you’re interested in learning to swim, check out my ebook on Amazon. I give you the five easy steps that anyone can take to learn to swim in just a few minutes!