I do not want to get into a big discussion of “school of thought”, but over training is over training. And to swim more and not swim better or cross train is a big mistake. There are literally thousands of amateur swimmers with shoulder issues who thought, “I just need to swim more to improve”.
Now, one of the most overlooked aspects of any athletic sport/activity is core activation while performing the activity. This requires learning how to activate the support/stabilizing muscles consciously and then making that activation subconscious. It is a little bit of a process. I would be glad to discuss it with you a bit and guide you a bit if you are interested. Just go to my profile and contact me via Idea Fit.
Or…If you are interested in coming to Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii, I do teach coaching and swim instruction for all levels (age group, masters, high school, college, elite). This goes beyond WSI and most team coaching skills, knowledge, and abilities. You can get in touch with me through my profile.
So I’ll be honest, I reached out to my massage therapist (Liz Long of Prosperity Body Work) to help me answer your question. Although I’ve swam my fair share of laps in the pool, she has an extensive background in the sport. Her history includes 8 years of competitive US Swimming; 6 years as a private swim coach, including 2 years as a US Master’s coach with High Altitude Masters in Santa Fe, NM (copied this info from her website’s bio page at http://www.prosperitybodywork.com/bio.html).
Now that you know Liz’s qualifications, here’s the answer to your question from an email she sent me:
“Strengthen the whole core: front, sides, and back (crunches, oblique crunches, cobras, any core stabilization method you can find [that doesn’t cause you pain]).
Strengthen the whole leg (plenty of squats and lunges).
Also, strengthen the lats, shoulders, biceps, triceps, and traps. Any common gym routine for any of these will do [assuming none of the exercises cause you to feel pain].
Keep good rotator cuff health by attaching a therapy band to a post, bending you elbow at 90 degrees down by your side and internally rotating the arm for 30 seconds and externally rotating the arm for 30 seconds. Aim for good flexibility around the joints but avoid loss of stabilization.
Do a lot of stretches for the whole body after you warm up for at least 200yds and follow up with joint mobilizations like gentle arm circles.
If you really want to improve your swimming see a professional coach once in awhile.”
Wow, a lot of info, I know! Let me know if you’d like me to clarify anything she included in her response but I hope at least some of this helps you get started.
Hello Eunice Gates,
On land you will want to do full body strength workouts; do not skip the push ups. Jump rope will help stamina. Remember to stretch the entire body, also.
In the water, incorporate all the strokes, the butterfly stroke requires more energy. Also, swim as long as possible without taking a breath by doing sprints, if you will. Swim using only the arms, swim only using the legs. If you swim in a pool, do the flip turn.
Do you specialize in a stroke? If so, practice that stroke.
Have fun swimming.