Why All Runners Should also be Swimmers
Swimming is an amazing form of exercise. It is low impact, it works almost every muscle in your body, and a good workout can be completed in just 30 minutes.
How Swimming Can Prevent Injuries
Many runners turn to cycling or swimming when they face injury. This aquatic center, Swim RVA, actually found value in implementing a running academy into their programs. The goal is to help prevent and heal injuries running injuries while helping runners excel in their training.
Participants wear a belt to help them stabilize in a vertical position while running in the water, going through the same motions as a typical jog. This method is often called pool running or aqua jogging. The water adds some resistance for a better workout; but it also supports your joints for a low-impact, safe place to exercise. The combination of difficult exercise with low risk of injury means that you can safely run in a pool for any length of time to become a stronger runner. You are also less likely to irritate existing sprains or injuries.
When pounding your joints over and over again by running (especially on concrete or pavement), it’s important to switch it up. Even if you decide to alternate your runs with a Pilates or Body Pump class, any other type of exercise can actually benefit your running. This is why so many sports teams today are cross training and implementing new forms of exercise into their program.
Swimming vs. Running
Don’t get me wrong, running is a great form of exercise. The intense cardio burns fat and keeps your heart strong and healthy. However, for those with weaker knees or ankles, the repetitive motion and impact can cause pain and injury.
Why People Prefer to Run
- No gym membership required. You can run almost anywhere, and the only equipment needed is a $5 watch and a good pair of shoes. Some people also like the fact that they don’t have to drive to a gym, and they can simply step into their neighborhood to begin a workout.
- The getting ready hassle. Putting on your swimsuit to get into the pool and taking a shower and changing when you get out can all be a hassle to some. You may have to wash your hair a couple of times to rinse out the chlorine.
- It’s cold! Sometimes, especially during the winter, the thought of jumping into a cold pool can seem unbearable.
How Swimming Can Help You Become the Ultimate Runner
- Lung capacity. With all of that breath-holding, swimming increases your lung capacity. Better lung capacity means that you won’t be struggling to breathe as much while running.
- Core workout. Swimming certain strokes is a great core workout, which can help you be less fatigued while running. Running slightly uses some core muscles (your abs may hurt on your first run of the season), but swimming is more intense.
- Leg workout. Doing kick sets (using a kickboard) targets new muscles in your lugs that hill running may only touch on.
Overall, swimming uses new ranges of motion that can prevent a runner from overcompensating with their overworked muscles. For instance, say swimming
gives you extra strength in your quads while running solely develops your calves. If you become a swimmer, you can incorporate your quad strength into your leg motion for ultimate power. This also means that your calves are less prone to injury because they are working in conjunction with another muscle group. Running repeatedly without switching it up with new exercises means that you are stuck only working your calf muscle.
Remember, swimming smart is an important step in getting in shape. You can’t just swim mindless laps back and forth at the same pace. It’s important to mix up your steady pace with sprints, new strokes, and drills. Click here for some workouts if you aren’t too sure where to start. If you don’t have a strong swimming technique yet, you will need to take some lessons to get you comfortable with each of the 4 strokes: Freestyle, Backstroke, Breaststroke, and Butterfly.
So even if you decide to not become a permanent swimmer, consider implementing it seasonally into your training routine. Swimming gives your overworked muscles and joints a break from impact while developing additional muscle groups that running can’t target. The end result: you will have a heads up on your running competition and be able to practice strengthening exercises in an injury-free environment.