For women who have not exercised in a while due to the birth of a baby, or following injury or an operation swimming is the perfect low-impact form of exercise for regaining lost flexibility. Suggested as the perfect way of working out after a joint replacement or for individuals who suffer from arthritis or other inflammatory diseases; swimming has it all! The buoyancy of the water supports your muscles and joints and allows for a greater range of motion than would be possible on land. It also provides resistance and cools your body as you exercise, and will also lead to better balance and more toned muscles. Who wouldn’t want that?!
Below we have listed some of the best exercises that can be done as part of your regaining flexibility regime…
Begin your workout by doing some simple motion exercises to get your body loosened up. Start with your neck and move each joint gently in the motion it was designed for, and carry on all the way to your toes. Do not force your joints; move them as much as you can without causing any pain. This type of exercise will lead to greater flexibility in your joints over time.
Once you have completed the motion exercises start stretching out your body. Start by stretching your arms above your head, and then move your arms from side to side if you feel able. Now move into deeper than waist depth water and gently lean forward from the waist, and then arch backwards. Move your body from side to side bending at the waist. Next, walk to the edge of the pool and hold onto the side for balance while you move your legs forward and backwards, then side to side.
If you feel that your body is now loosened up try some leg raises while still holding onto the side. Keeping your back straight slowly extend your leg to the side, and then bring the leg as high as you can without forcing it or causing pain. Do this exercise for both legs. Another great exercise is water walking. Simple walk across the width of the pool a few times also moving your arms as though you are marching, and then try to run. Do this exercise until you feel slightly breathless, but don’t get exhausted! Walking and running in the water will also build muscle tone and endurance as well as increasing your flexibility.
Now finish your session with some laps if you feel able. Take it slow and don’t over extend your body. You will find that your flexibility will increase over time, especially if you swim on a regular basis. As with all thing consult your doctor before beginning any new exercise regime, or if you experience any pain in the pool.
Happy Swimming – Sarah Bohn