Sun’s Out, Suits Out!

With the weather warming up, it’s time to shift your workouts outdoors. Swimming is a great way to stay active, and have fun while doing so. Don’t forget to take advantage of the water on your summer lake or beach trips. Below we will highlight some benefits of incorporating swimming into your exercise routine, and basic strength exercises you can start performing today!

Swimming is low impact, making it an ideal exercise for people with osteoarthritis, for whom weight-bearing exercise can be painful. Patients recovering from an injury such as a hip replacement or general low back pain are often prescribed aquatic therapy. However, it can also be used to create new challenges if you’re an active individual as well. Swimming requires you to reach, stretch, twist, and pull your way through the water. As the back reaches and rotates, the stomach tightens to power the legs and stabilize the core.

Swimming is also a great way to burn calories! Most people don’t realize it can be just as effective as jumping on the treadmill. Depending on the stroke you choose and your intensity, swimming can burn equal or greater calories than running. For example, according to Move Forward PT, you burn 60 calories in 10 minutes of swimming breast stroke, 80 calories with the backstroke, 100 calories with freestyle, and an impressive 150 with the butterfly stroke! Just so you have some perspective, running a 10-minute mile burns around 100 calories. Therefore, a strong 30-min butterfly speed session can burn 150 more calories than running a 5K in the same time frame.

Below are four exercises you can complete underwater:

Shoulder Abduction
Begin in a mini squat position in shallow water with your arms out to your side, holding a hand float in each hand on the surface of the water.
Pull one arm down to your side, keeping your arm straight, then slowly return to the starting position and repeat with the opposite arm. Make sure to engage your abdominal muscles and keep your wrists straight during the exercise. Do not let your trunk lean during the arm movement.

Modification: If you are unable to maintain your balance, lean your back against the pool wall.

Progression:   As you gain more control, increase your speed with the downward movement and slow down the upward movement.

Lunges
Set-up exactly like a lunge on land. Feet hip width apart, step one leg forward keeping your knee on top of your ankle and in line with your second toe.

Modification: You may want to hold onto the side wall for balance and execute smaller lunges.

Progression: You can change directions, increase the speed, or talk to one of our licensed physical therapists for a more advanced progression.

Squats
Begin with your feet hip width apart and bend at your hips as you squat down like you are sitting in a chair. Check your knee alignment as you lower down and keep your chest tall.

Modification: You can hold onto the side wall for balance.

Progression: increase the speed, add jumps, or hold onto a hand float.

Side Stepping
Slowly walk sideways, stepping one foot out to your side and raising your arms out to your sides, then step your feet together, lowering your arms to touch your legs. Repeat in the opposite direction to return to the starting position. Make sure to maintain your balance and keep your movements controlled.

Modification: If you are unable to maintain your balance, hold onto a noodle on the surface of the water.

Progression: As you gain more control, increase your speed with the movement.

Aquatic Physical Therapy allows people of all ages and levels of function to reach their goals, and return to what they love to do. For those with difficulty moving, water offers gentleness that provides reduced stress on joints and muscles; great for post-operative joint replacements. RET Physical Therapy has provided a successful aquatic physical therapy and rehabilitation program at the Aquatic Therapy Center at Mercer Island since 1987. Our experienced therapists have developed specialized and individualized programs that take advantage of the many benefits of warm water therapy. To schedule an appointment or for questions click here.
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