Do you know how to condition your mind & body ?

When we train, we have to remember that there is more to it than just doing the routine. There are certain aspects of our being aside from our physical body that we have to consider conditioning. Our mind is a very powerful weapon that can be used even in training. Among many things, it controls our feelings, emotions, and perspectives.  Let’s take a look at what can help condition both your mind and body to help you get more out of your training, specifically for swimming.

The Body

While it is true that swimming has a lower impact on your body than other sports, this does not mean that your body needs less attention. Your body still gets tired. Swimming is highly recommended as it works on all aspects of your body but it still adds on a great amount of stress. A lot of athletes push themselves to the limit and use up a lot of that energy by training overtime with heavy workouts, putting themselves on a diet, and sacrificing hours that should be used for a bit of socializing. What do we do to refuel that energy? Refueling your energy and keeping yourself from being “burnt out” takes more than physical needs. What usually comes to mind is food, water and rest. While food can be perceived as a reward for your body, the mind is in control of the discipline. Your mind has to want to keep that discipline or else the urge to have extra junk food will kick in. Once your mind is conditioned for a proper diet you will notice that the cravings for unhealthy food will decrease.  Keeping yourself hydrated is very important. You’d be surprised at how many athletes forget to drink enough water. Water helps maintain strength and a clear mind. Make it a habit to drink water after a few laps until your body gets used to it. Resting is the easiest but not the least important. Without proper rest, it does not matter how good you are at keeping a diet. You have to get ample amount of sleep (usually set at 8 hours a day). Insufficient rest hinders the detoxification and repairing tissue damage in the body and your mind suffers too.  

The Mind

Stress takes a toll on both the mind and the body. Your mind and body tend to go into overdrive when you are stressed. Mental stress is seen having a greater effect on people than physical stress. This is because your mind is your processor. It controls your emotions and then your body reacts to it. Keeping a healthy, happy mind set will help keep you fully functional.  If you don’ beat your record today don’t stress out and train an extra hour. Explore a healthier mental approach. First, clear and ease your mind. Check yourself once in a while to make sure that there is a balance. Keep your mind and body clear from negativity. This way you can focus more on the goal at hand. Attracting negativity will only hinder you from what you want to achieve. Unwind by giving time to social activities. Being around your loved ones nourishes you and calms you on a deeper level. Relaxing is important too, so don’t sacrifice it. When you give yourself a good dose then you may revisit your workout and strategies to improve. Endurance does not come easy. Don’t be too serious about your training all the time. Swimming can also be similar to meditation. Studies show that being around the water has a powerful effect on the brain. It is said to make you happier, healthier, more connected to yourself, and rejuvenates a tired mind.

The Injuries

Being an athlete comes with physical and mental injuries from time to time. When struggling with a physical injury don’t brave it out and use the line “mind over matter”. In this case, if you don’t mind, it does matter. Tend to the pain and rehabilitate before continuing your work out. You might make things worse by ignoring it. Give your body some tender loving care from time to time. Same goes for dealing with problems that life throws at you. Deal with it before it eats you from the inside out.

Balance is the key. Being aware of your needs versus your wants can strengthen you and help you achieve your goal and sometimes even beyond what you expected.

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.