6 awesome reasons why you need to do backstroke.

Backstroke is one of the most under appreciated swimming strokes. Most people spend their training sessions working with freestyle because it is the preferred stroke in most races. Freestyle swimming is a good stroke to use to build strength and endurance in the pool. If you specialize in a stroke, like backstroke, breaststroke, or butterfly, you will work on that stroke during your training. But most of your work will still be with freestyle. Interestingly, it is a good idea for every swimmer to include some backstroke work in every training session – even if you never swim backstroke in competitive events.

 

Avoid Repetitive Use Injuries

One of the most common problems that athletes experience are repetitive use injuries. These happen when athletes only work on one skill. So, athletes who play baseball often develop overuse injuries to their shoulders and elbows because they only throw with one hand. Swimmers who only swim with their faces down in the water can actually develop overuse injuries, too.

 

Use Complementary Muscles

Backstroke can take care of overuse issues. Because backstroke uses muscles in a different way that freestyle does, overuse gets reversed. When people swim backstroke, the chest muscles get to open up as the back does more work. During backstroke, the shoulders end up in a helpful position for improving posture – the shoulders are back and the belly is engaged. Doing backstroke on a regular basis can also reverse the pain that can develop in the neck and shoulders from arching over a computer screen.

 

Strengthening the Core

Another benefit of swimming backstroke regularly is the work it does on the core. The slight hip rotation helps to strengthen the core in a way the other strokes do not. The kicks also help with the core because they activate small muscles in the lower back. You might start to notice your oblique muscles getting stronger as you continue to practice this stroke.

 

Use with Running and High Impact Sports

Cross-training is another way to avoid overuse injuries. For people who do other athletic activities that involve high-impact, swimming will help reduce the negative effects that come from pounding hard into the ground. Runners, especially, can benefit from any type of swimming, but backstroke is the most therapeutic. Swimming backstroke gives the feet a break while focusing on the glutes and legs. The water provides resistance and lets the body heal from all of that impact. Because backstroke is done in such an unconventional way (there are very few exercises that are performed on the back), it is the perfect cross-training option for nearly every athlete.

 

Build Balance

Balance is the key to success in nearly every exercise routine. No one wants to suffer from overuse pains. Since most swimmers do spend the majority of their time facing down in the pool, backstroke is about the only complementary activity that can help instead of hurt them. Of course, swimmers can add weightlifting and running to their cross-training plan, but backstroke is the only activity that can be done with little-to-no risk of further injury. Mixing up your laps can actually improve your dominant stroke because you work more muscles – especially opposite muscles. If you are unsure of how to add backstroke, try using it as a cool down stroke. Take a slow and steady, so you can really focus on the muscle activity during the stroke.

 

Develop Different Muscles

You will also notice that backstroke work helps you in other non-swimming exercises. Since many competitive swimmers spend time in the weight room, they will see the benefits of backstroke on their upper body. Backstroke is one of the few strokes where the arm can fully extend. This helps build strength in the upper body and the bicep muscles. You will also see the triceps get stronger, too. You will have more flexibility in the weight room and in your neck and spine.

The female body image & swimming.

 One of the most controversial topics in all of sports is the idea of body image. Elite athletes are supposed to look fit and fabulous with toned muscles, six-pack abs, and no body fat. For female athletes, especially swimmers, the struggle to look a certain way can be physically and mentally draining.

Every sport has its own uniform, but other than gymnastics, the swimmers’ uniform is one of the most revealing. It is pretty easy to tell how a swimmer looks, because there is no way to hide anything in a suit. So, it is easy for coaches, opponents, and peers to see if swimmers have put on a few pounds. Because of this, swimmers need to take good care of themselves on the inside and the outside.

 

The human body is always changing and the female body changes practically daily. Female swimmers might feel fabulous and strong one day and then not just a few days later. One of the biggest issues facing female swimmers is that their broad muscular shoulders and strong legs do not transfer into the world of fashion and sex appeal. Many female swimmers feel strong and amazing while they are swimming and training for their events, but not when they leave the pool and wander out into the world.

 

Female swimmers do not have petite little bodies that attract the opposite sex – or so some female swimmers think. Female swimmers often feel masculine when they are with people who are not swimmers. It can be difficult for female swimmers to find clothing that fits them in an attractive way because of their muscular bodies. Instead of having the thin arms, curvy waists, and large breasts, athletic swimmers have quite the opposite – all because of their training. It can be difficult for female swimmers, especially those in their late teens and early twenties, to want to keep swimming because the pull to fit in with everyone else is so strong.

 

Instead, women who swim need to look at the world through their own lenses. Understanding that they are elite athletes can create a positive body image. Female swimmers need to develop their own personal pride in their amazing physiques and their amazing abilities. They are beyond normal – not less than normal. Lifting weights and swimming laps will not keep people from loving them; in reality, it will encourage people to love them, because the female swimmers are who they are – strong, beautiful, athletic women.

 

In order to build and maintain a positive body image and a positive mental outlook on life, many athletic female swimmers have changed a few things in their lives. It is important to cultivate their mental health by building confidence. This can happen by making a few changes:

 

  • Some swimmers have surrounded themselves with images of other strong female swimmers, rather than images of slender non-athletes. Having pictures of swimmers and other female athletes helps reinforce that their athletic bodies are attractive and desirable. The ESPN Body issue is full of quality images of real female athletes whose bodies show the different ways that women can look.

 

  • Some female swimmers and other athletes also use positive words to help them get through their days when they are not surrounded with fellow swimmers. It is important to remember how strong and beautiful the swimmer’s body is.

 

  • Many female swimmers stay away from the scale, unless it is needed for training. There are other methods to judge how the body looks. Checking weight can be deceiving, especially since muscle is more dense than fat.

 

  • If issues with body image become problematic, there is nothing wrong with getting psychological help. There are psychologists who specialize in this issue and they know how to work with female athletes. It is better to get help than to suffer from mental struggles.