We're in the middle of summer where being near the water is an essential for fun as well as to stay cool! Adulting can be tough and even we need to be reminded of pool safety! We talked with Aquatic Director, Susanna Lubinsky Of Griffin Club LA to make sure that we all know the do's of water safety!
ATHLEISURE MAG: Why is swimming a great activity for fitness and what are its benefits?
SUSANNA LUBINSKY: Swimming is very different from working out on land. Since water is over 700 times denser than air, swimming forces your body to constantly work through
resistance through muscular contraction. This kind of resistance training is unique in that it strengthens your skeletal muscles, improves your muscular mass and tone, and builds endurance while also strengthening your involuntary muscles, like your heart and lungs. Furthermore, since swimming is low impact, you can swim at higher intensities at a more regular basis without feeling the wear and tear that some land-based workouts may cause. Swimming is also a full body workout: training the large muscles of your back, core, shoulder and arms, glutes, hamstrings, wrists, ankles and feet, as well as many small, stabilizing muscles that other workouts miss. Swimming also affects your central nervous system, your sense of balance, proprioception, cognitive functioning, as well as your cardiovascular health.
AM: What tips would you provide to those that are adults that have never swam, but are looking to include this within their routine for fitness?
SL: Have fun and explore different pathways of movements. Not all adults have to swim traditional laps in order to get the physical benefits of working out in the water. If you’re a runner for example, try wearing a weighted belt, and go jogging through the water. It’s gentler on your joints while also giving the added benefit of a massage—as you move through water, it naturally channels and swirls, creating a whirlpool effect on the muscles. Also, don’t be shy to take a class or a lesson from a swim coach. They are like personal trainers; they will guide you to avoid bad habits and unnecessary injuries.
AM: Is swimming also therapeutic in terms of assisting in reducing injuries that may have taken place from other activities?
SL: Absolutely! Since it is a low impact sport, it’s easy on the joints and many physical therapists include swimming for rehabilitation. Furthermore, you get the added benefit of mental clarity and stress reduction. Being submerged in water has the benefit of sensory deprivation—all this means is that if you’re looking for a place of quiet and calm, diving under water may just do the trick. There is new research out there that shows the benefits of floatation tanks, relieving symptoms such as chronic anxiety.
AM: What are the best foods to eat before and after swimming and what should be avoided?
SL: What’s important to note here, is that everybody is different. What works for one person may not work for another. It’s important to experiment and notice which foods work for your body. An easy rule of thumb is you want to consume simple carbohydrates before exercising, like fruit, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, or an energy bar, for quick, immediate fuel. It’s also super important to remember to stay hydrated, which many swimmers may not think about since they are immersed in water. Feed your body post workout with a lean protein to rebuild muscle as well as a complex carbohydrate, such as leafy green vegetables, rice, or pasta to replenish sugar levels.
AM: What are the benefits that swimming can provide?
SL: It’s an amazing lung strengthener, and who wouldn’t want strong, healthy lungs? When your body and face is immersed in water, there is greater pressure on the diaphragm and lungs, making oxygen a premium commodity. Therefore, the body learns to adapt with the pressures by optimizing the air it does take in, while expelling more carbon dioxide. This alone improves pulmonary health while increasing blood flow to the brain. Furthermore, studies have shown that regular swimmers have lower resting heart rates and blood pressure as well as greater elasticity in the lungs and skin.
AM: Are there injuries that are common to swimmers and how can you avoid this happening?
SL: The most common injury is the swimmer’s shoulder, which manifests most frequently with the freestyle stroke, and to a lesser degree with backstroke and butterfly. It shows up as inflammation and pain most often in the deltoids and rotator cuff. It is often caused by improper technique, excessive downward force of the arms, or pushing through against the onset of fatigue.
Overtraining, unbalanced strength, such as with unilateral breathing, and the overuse of paddles can exacerbate the condition. Best prevention is make sure your swimming technique is sound. Take lessons with a qualified professional, brush up on drills, and pay attention to your body, rather than move from habituated patterns. Make sure you familiarize yourself with and incorporate hydrodynamic principles into your practice. Rest when you are tired, as overtraining tired muscles weakens the integrity of the small, stabilizing muscles. Also, it’s important to stretch the chest and strengthen your latissimus dorsi regularly.
AM: What are popular water sports that are available at Griffin Club?
SL: Griffin Club Los Angeles offers a Cross Training H20 class, a creative, fun and wet way to spice up your workout this summer. Taught by our Athletic Director Derek Capps and myself, participants are divided into 2 groups and alternate between land and water for an enhanced metabolic training experience. The land-based sequences are comprised of multi-joint movements like burpees, pushups, squats and jumps. The swimming portion will utilize a variety of strokes for an aerobic workout. Combining these two different workout methods will assure a high caloric burn both during and after the workout as well as improve overall performance. This class is suitable for all fitness and swimming levels. Griffin Club Los Angeles offers classes for children as well, including a Parent & Me swim class for children 6 months to 2.5 years of age.
Read more from the July Issue