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Shed Pounds With Your Pool

Whether it’s the winter months and the slopes and trails are spotted with skiers, or it’s summer and the paths are littered with runners and bikers, it’s always a great time to hit the pool. Swim fitness, in all of its forms, can be much more than just your Grandmother’s water aerobics. Whatever your goal or level of expertise, swim fitness is a great option to help lose weight.
Swim, Swim, Swim!
The most common and most effective way to use your swimming pool as a means to weight loss is to just swim! Swimming uses all major muscle groups and burns more calories per hour than running or cycling. Plus, you don’t have to worry about injuring your knee or dodging cars. Even if swimming isn’t the central aspect of your workout routine, it can be an excellent secondary workout that makes you stronger in other sports or activities.
When you swim, you work your cardiovascular system and all the major muscle groups. This increases your stamina and is great for your heart. It also helps strengthen and tone your muscles, especially those in your core – back, chest, and abdominals. Moreover, there is little to no impact on your joints, so it is especially beneficial for those who are overweight, pregnant, or have chronic issues such as a lingering back injury.
The Pool Is For YOU
Swimming is also one of the most egalitarian forms of exercise: anyone can do it! This fact makes it a great family activity regardless of each individual’s skill level. Family members and friends that are good swimmers can dive in and take off on their own. Intermediate swimmers can use kickboards and go more slowly. Beginners can use tools like arm floaties or simply stay in the shallow areas to practice.
To the elite, pool fitness may mean swimming laps for extended periods of time with no buoyant aids. This is the best exercise, but it’s not for everyone. To others, using the pool to lose weight may mean swimming, but with the help of buoyant equipment for support. To some, swim fitness may mean aquatic kick boxing, in-pool Zumba, or basic resistance training. Whatever it is, your pool can be a valuable tool in your weight loss arsenal.
If you or someone else is a true beginner, however, it’s best to begin with lessons. This is true even if intense lap swimming isn’t your end goal. An instructor can teach the basics of all strokes and help you practice and improve. This will likely make your swimming experiences more, better exercise, and safer.
Be Careful Not To Overdo It
Although swimming is one of the most injury-free sports, it’s possible to get injured while swimming even if you start slow and don’t overtrain. One of the most common ailments is "Swimmer’s Shoulder." This is a term used to describe a variety of precise injuries to the shoulder caused by the repetitive motions necessitated by swimming.
There are often two mechanisms that cause a swimmer’s shoulder injury: the entry phase and the recovery phase. The entry phase is when the hand enters the water, is pulled through, and then exits; the recovery phase is the time during which the hand exits and re-enters the water. If the entry phase is not done properly it will strain the bicep tendon. If the recovery phase is affected by shoulder fatigue, it will strain the supraspinatus tendon (an area of the shoulder’s rotator cuff). The key is to use proper form – PcPools recommends using a swim coach to teach proper technique and design appropriate drills.
If you have pain, here are some things to consider:
  1. Over Training. Don’t be a victim of the "too fast too soon" injury by diving in. If you become one, back off and give your shoulder time to heal and catch up. There will be plenty of time to swim!
  2. Alternate Your Strokes. Many swimmers stick with one stroke – their best one. That’s okay at first, but try switching up your strokes to prevent injury. This will also serve to maximize your muscle development.
  3. Work On Breathing. Raising your head to one side – called "Unilateral Breathing" – will naturally require overuse of one shoulder and is more likely to lead to a neck strain. Try bilateral breathing to prevent overuse of one shoulder.
  4. Stretching and Strengthening. If your shoulder is too flexible you will exacerbate movement in the Glenohumeral joint and cause irritation to your rotator cuff. If it’s too tight, the impingement of the shoulder capsule will cause inflammation and pain. A good way to walk the line between too tight and too loose is to implement a workout and stretching routine beyond what you do in the pool. Consulting a trainer or sports physician is a good idea, but whatever you do, don’t ignore your body’s need to stretch and strengthen!
If shoulder pain remains after appropriate rest and implementing the above precautionary measures, it’s time to seek treatment. Sports Chiropractors, Orthopedic Physicians, Physical Therapists, and Massage Therapists are excellent resources to examine your shoulders and determine the necessary plan of action.
Regardless of your age, body type, or skill level, swimming is an excellent way to get healthy and lose weight. If you aren’t ready for full-on swimming – or you’re just looking to mix it up once in a while – try other water activities like aquatic kick boxing or Zumba. Your pool offers some of the best and safest ways to drop weight, so use it!