Aqua Fun Academy
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Swimming Fit Friday: Exercise and Arthritis.

 

 

swimming fit friday

Above is a photo of Aqua Fitness participants, with noodles

This swimming Fit Friday we will talk about ‘Exercise and Arthritis’.As we’ve discussed before the properties of water do fantastic things for the body.  One aspect that is noted often is that the water allows for a low impact environment. The water also allows those with reduced muscle mass, to weight bear with ease.

When working with participants who have arthritis the goal is to extend ones range of motion, building on flexibility while conditioning the muscle for positive developments in strength.

Because participants usually come with a limited range of motion, it is a preference of mine to only use ones body to exercise. Thus my classes in these cases tend to be equipment free. Warm water pools like Sunny View are perfect! Because the mobility required to thermo-regulate can be limited for the participants with decreased range of motion.

As an instructor I work to increase ROM (Range of Motion) by starting with small finer movements and gradually making the movements larger and more fluid. For example movement in the shoulders can be stiff, thus we can start by extending our arms as seen in the photo below. 

Swimming Fit Friday

Above is a photo of Michael Phelps arm span.

Once we’ve done this we will start by moving our arms in small circles and slowly increase the size of these circles with our arm. It is important to do this in both directions for a total time of 60 seconds, and 30 seconds in each direction.

A trend common amongst instructors who specialize in teaching this demographic is to limit every exercise to roughly 30 seconds intervals. Doing so allows the body time recoup and reduce muscle fatigue for the duration of the class.

In regards to building strength for this demographic it is also important to focus on balance. Having participants challenge their core strength, through various leg lifts, and holding various positions for 30 seconds at a time. Conditions the stabalizer muscles and promotes muscular endurance. Overall improving the participants’ quality of life, as they are able to stand for longer period of time. Which can allow them to do more around the household such as cooking and cleaning.

For opportunities on various adult classes and fitness programs visit the link below:

Health and Fitness

That’s a wrap for this weeks, Swimming Fit Friday!

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Butterfly and Chest Position

Today’s Swimming Tip Tuesday our key point is to ‘avoid going too deep down in the water when pressing down the chest. It should only move about 5 inches up and down.’

Butterfly is an advanced stroke that requires a lot of coordination, and well-developed strength in both the arms and legs. As a result of this, Butterfly is a skill taught after one has mastered Breaststroke; which is a coordination heavy stroke.

Lets look at Breathing and Timing for Butterfly. When breathing the positioning of our chest in the water dictates how effectively we will be able to come up for air. Furthermore, the positioning of our chest also allows the swimmer to develop a natural rhythm.

A common mistake amongst beginners is to bring the head and chest too low into the water at the beginning of the stroke. What we are striving for is, to keep the head just under the surface of the water, and the chest almost level. As we go into the stroke the chest drops with the downbeat of the hips, and returns to just under the surface of the water on the second downbeat of the legs. Making a wave or ‘s’ motion with the body.

By returning the chest to just under the surface of the water, we decrease the amount of work required to pull the head up to breath. For those of you who have been swimming for some time, swimming is all about efficiency! By focusing on bringing the chest back up on the second down beat of the legs, we decrease the amount of energy used to bring our head up. This provides the swimmer with more energy to complete longer distances. As Butterfly can be a more physically taxing stroke in comparison to simple strokes like Front Crawl or Back Crawl.

That’s a wrap for this Swimming Tip Tuesday, until next week!Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Back Crawl, relax the neck.

This weeks Swimming Tip Tuesday will focus on Back Crawl and relaxation of the neck. A Common beginner mistake while doing Back Crawl is to tilt the head upwards, as if they are looking at their chest or their toes. This creates unnecessary strain on the neck and can lead soreness along the neck. Another disadvantage to this tilted position of the head and neck is, that it partially closes the airway. Thus inhibiting the free flow of the breathe in and out of the body. This tension adds more stress on the body, ultimately compromising our streamlined position.Swimming Tip Tuesday

When performing Back Crawl, the swimmer wants to relax their head back so that their ears are partially or fully submerged in the water. If either the swimmer or instructor notices that there is still a feeling of tension within the neck, or that the body position looks awkward. There is another way to set the body into streamlined position.

The swimmer while on their back, must focus on where their chin points:

  • If the swimmers chin is pointed towards the chest that indicates that the swimmer is looking at their chest/toes.
  • If the swimmer’s chin is pointed upwards towards the ceiling, this means that the swimmer is overcompensating and looking towards the wall behind them.

The swimmer wants the chin to be held within these two points (as mentioned above) so that the swimmer is looking directly at the ceiling above them while performing Back Crawl. Maintaining this position will remove all tension, and keep the swimmer in a streamlined position.

Once the swimmer as achieved the ideal body positioning for the head and neck, the swimmer will also increase their speed for their will be less drag acting on the body.

Expert Tip: In short your head should be still and your neck relaxed. Holding your head up too high will cause strain to the neck and slow you down in the water.

Until Next Swimming Tip Tuesday!

Swimming Tip Tuesday

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Swimming Fit Friday: Social Posture

This weeks Swimming Fit Friday we will discuss posture, and exercises one can do to improve, maintain and build their posture. However first we will discuss posture and its implications.

Posture is an important feature of our everyday lives it helps us communicate various characteristics such as confidence, power, authority, and strong leadership. These qualities are associated with good posture. Though these qualities may not be something inherent to the individual. Posture is something we can develop. With improved posture others may expect these positive characteristics from us. This is an advantage, for as humans we are performative creatures. Having others perceive us in this positive way can elicit us to act this way. Thus we become confident, powerful, and possess strong leadership.

Form is an implicit part of exercise success a lot of aquatic fitness, and water yoga rely on the ability to maintain ones posture. Body checks are done regularly throughout the class ensuring that participants are mindful of their proper form.

Starting at the top of the back underneath the shoulder blades, we have the Rhomboids; these muscles are crucial for developing proper posture. In aquafit, we can strengthen this area by standing in our athletic position; one for forward, and one back, and shoulders over hips.Swimming Fit Friday With our arms we will bring our elbows close to the torso of the body with the palms open. It is from this position that the athlete will relax the arms forward with the palms facing down until they are in front of the athlete, and then turn the palms 90 degrees, pushing the hands to the sides of the body, squeezing the shoulder blades together maintaining that the elbows remain close to the torso and that the hands do not extend past the shoulders. Repetition of these 25 times will build the upper back and shoulders.

To engage the entirety of the back, we can engage in various noodle work. The simplest is bicycle. This can be done by either sitting on the noodle or propping the noodle underneath ones arms. The points of interest are to maintain ones shoulders over hips throughout the cycle. Furthermore one wants to bring the legs forward in front of the body rather than underneath. By doing this we activate many of the postural muscles. It is through exercising these that we not only improve our health but our social standing as well.

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Breaststroke arm movements

This weeks Swimming Tip Tuesday we will discuss Breaststroke and focus on the arm movements.

When instructing this skill, instructors tell their students to “pull, breathe, whip and glide” as a way to remember the steps for the entire stroke. For the purpose of this discussion we will focus on the “pull, breathe” portion of this little saying. Starting from the top of the stroke our body is streamline, hands together in front of the head, as well the legs are close together behind. This is our body positioning at the very beginning and end of the stroke, please refer to the photo below for a visual.Natation Conseil Mardi
The swimmer will then take their arms and part them outwards, creating a box shape, at the sides of the body, while keeping the elbows inline with the shoulders. It is at this point that the swimmer will lift their head up to breathe hence the steps “pull, breathe”.  Immediately afterwards to generate forward momentum the swimmer will pull the arms from that position at the sides of the body in towards the chest and push forward. A common beginner mistake involves sweeping the arms to wide, pulling the arms past the shoulders, creating a longer distance for the arms to travel to return to a streamlined glide position. Ideally beginners want to create a box shape with the upper portion of their body always stopping at the shoulders.
Dependent on if the swimmer is performing Breaststroke as a common swimmer, or a racing swimmer the arm movements will look slightly different. Racing strokes have an emphasis on maintaining speed, by focusing on reduction of drag. Drag in this context, is when the water acts against the swimmer slowing them down. This can also be understood as time spent out of streamline position in which the body is not working to generate forwards momentum effectively. To improve speed for this stroke and reduce drag, one wants to keep the arms close to the body as they pull around. This is accomplished by bringing keeping the arms in tight as they move down towards the sides of the swimmers torso, dropping the elbows just under the shoulders, before pushing forward.
If speed is something of interest to you as a swimmer, looking into Aqua Fun Academy’s ASAC program, in which we develop swimmer skills and enhance their overall stroke performance. http://aquafunacademy.ca/asac/ 
That’s all for this weeks Swimming Tip Tuesday, until next time! Swimming Tip Tuesday
Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Breathing FC

Today’s Swimming Tip Tuesday we will look at Front Crawl, specifically breathing and how to correct common mistakes.

Front Crawl, as we progress through the levels, becomes more and more about positioning and coordination. Timing is just one small element of getting this stroke in motion; especially in regards to breathing throughout a stroke.

Through my own teaching experience I have seen a multitude of interesting ways to breathe incorrectly. It is common for swimmers at all stages to develop habits that do not aid us in perfecting the stroke.

In order to retrieve a full breathe while doing Front Crawl, the swimmer must keep various things in mind.

  • When pulling the arms around to whether we are doing big circles or Front Crawl with bent arm, we want to be in the beginnings of side glide position as we take the breath. A common mistake occurs when we breathe as we are exiting the recovery phase. Simply put, breathe as you bring the arm out of the water, and not while you are putting your arm back into the water.
  • Head positioning is crucial, we want to keep about half our face within the water. Angling our chin towards the ceiling to bring in more air. As ones stroke increases in speed, you will want to stretch your mouth to the top side to keep it clear above the water.
  • Another way to bring our face to the correct position when first beginning to learn Front Crawl, is to bring our ear down shoulder during the side glide phase of the stroke.

Another thing to keep in mind, while performing Front Crawl is that breathing during swimming shares the same principles as breathing during other physical activities we exhale on the effort (in the water), and inhale during the recovery (while we bring our arms out).

Until Next Weeks Swimming Tip Tuesday!Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday – Streamline Breastroke

Todays’ Swimming Tip Tuesday we will talk about staying streamline while doing Breaststroke.

In previous Swimming Tip Tuesdays’ we have isolated various movements that help simplify this complicated stroke that is Breaststroke. We’ve also discussed maintaining streamline body position during other strokes. Today we are going to look at the body from the top of the torso to the knees when performing Breaststroke.

In Breast Stroke the body moves through a sequence of steps: pull, breathe, whip, and glide for three seconds. During the glide phase the body is in perfect streamline position, as seen in the photo below.

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: An example of a swimmer in full glide potion.

When a swimmer executes the pull and breathe phase we partially break streamline position. However these motions are to help us generate forward momentum. As we whip, the arms are returning to streamline position. In order to prevent drag as we whip the swimmer must try to keep their thighs at the same level as their torso.

There are a few ways to create drag during the whip phase that many beginners do while learning the stroke.

  • The swimmer drops their knees towards the ground as the initiate the bend phase.
  • The swimmer bends at the hips while they initiate the bend phase.
  • The swimmer bends so their ankles exit the water.

Now that we understand the mistakes that can be made how do we correct these?

  • The Swimmer aims their knees towards the wall directly behind us, keeping our thighs inline with our torso.
  • The swimmer bends their heels back towards our buttocks without bending at the hips.
  • During the whip phase the swimmer keeps their ankles under the water.

If the swimmer accomplishes all three of these corrections, they will improve speed efficiency and technique during Breaststroke, as a result of creating less drag.

Well that’s a wrap for this Swimming Tip Tuesday, until next time!Swimming Tip Tuesday

 

 

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday: Butterfly Arms

Today’s Swimming Tip Tuesday:

Bring your arms up barely above the water and out to the sides.

This advanced swimming tip Tuesday is going to focus on the coordination of the arms during butterfly. This article will also focus on the importance of muscular balance and flexibility. The stroke itself requires a lot of upper body strength. Good upper body strength combined with the proper technique enables the swimmer to have explosive power. This application of power is required to pull the swimmer in an upward and forward motion. The arms circling forward resembling the image of a butterfly. Hence the name of this advanced stroke.

It is important to develop all the muscles in the shoulder and rotator cuff as pulling your arms forcefully around in a circular motion may cause discomfort if the muscles are unbalanced.

Exercises that strengthen the three deltoid muscles can be accomplished by both land and water exercises. Water exercises such as: water yoga or aquafit.

Further more it is equally as important to work on maintaining flexibility for rotation of the arms to prevent injury. Stretching in general is a great way to remain limber and avoid injury. When muscles and tendons become tight we are more prone exercising with improper form.

Lastly it is important to coordination when to flex and relax the arm muscles. Flexing throughout the entirety of the movement can also bring about the opportunity for injury. For example: many exercises have a phase of intensity which is when we aim to generate power. Flexing during this phase allows us to accomplish that. However if remain flexed we are sustaining a load and putting unnecessary pressure on our antagonist muscles.

In regards to executing the stroke; when pushing the arms down into the water is to try and draw the shape of a key hole. This shape allows the swimmer to generate both forward and upward momentum.

Another important factor lies when the arms are coming up out of the water. Ideally you want the back of the hands to meet in front of the face. This sets us up for drawing the key hole shape once the arms have reentered the water.

Remember exercise smart, focus on building balanced muscles and swim on. That’s all until our next swimming tip Tuesday.

Bring your arms up barely above the water and out to the sides

Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Tip Tuesday – Diving and lift off

Todays’ Swimming Tip Tuesday, we are going to discuss diving and the importance of using our legs!

When diving it is important to bend at the knees to provide proper lift off.

A common mistake amongst new divers happens when we forget to use our legs correctly, especially during a standing dive. Trying to generate force without bending at the knees creates the opportunity to enter the water chest first instead of hands first. What those of us familiar with diving blunders call a “belly flop”. To avoid this painful lesson, here are some tips about how to position ourselves to enter the water hands first.

From the start push your feet down into the ground preparing to jump, pointing where you want to enter the water with your hands. Remember to keep your hands together, throughout the glide phase of your dive.

  • Place feet side by side

If this is uncomfortable, one may spread their feet no wider than shoulder width apart. This marks our take off point, make sure ones’ toes are as close to the edge of the pool as possible.

  • Bend at the knees till about mid-squat position

This position allows the swimmer to prepare for proper execution of the dive. Furthermore, holding this position we will want to push off with our toes pointed towards our take off point.

  • Bend at the hips bringing the upper body close to the legs.

By lowering the body, we give ourselves a closer point of entrance into the water. We also allow the swimmer to achieve the arch necessary for entering the water hands first.

Remember when moving from the take off point, we want to aim our body out. As to travel forwards, as well as upwards. The image we want to form in our mind is an half moon.

Best of Luck, and Happy Diving!Swimming Tip Tuesday

Swimming Fit Friday Natation Forme Vendredi

Swimming Fit Friday: Water Yoga

Today’s Swimming Fit Friday is all about Water Yoga

Why Water Yoga? Well as the old saying goes, if you don’t use it, you lose it. Exercising in the water as a stand alone has a multitude of benefits for the body.

  • Reduced stress impact on joints
  • Increased blood flow due to hydro-static properties
  • Water resistance assist in balanced muscle development
  • Water buoyancy assist in maintaining as well as increasing range of motion

These are just a few of the benefits that come with working in water, when coupled with Yoga we introduce a broader list of benefits, that also incorporates a positive effect on the individuals’ mental health.

  • Reduces mental tension
  • Improves cognitive functions
  • Regulation of sleep schedule
Swimming Fit Friday

Tree Pose

Please refer to the link below for the article on Oneness and Buoyancy:

http://aquafunacademy.ca/swimming-fit-friday-oneness-buoyancy/

When combining water and yoga together, we can enhance the following benefits:

  • Postural strength
  • Muscular endurance
  • Weight distribution*

When thinking of our weight, often it is simplified to how much one weighs. Contrary to this method of thinking, the distribution of weight can be broken down into and various elements. Visceral fat (around the organs) or subcutaneous fat (underneath the skin), musculature, and water weight; all of these are important. Through the movements of Yoga combined with water and performed correctly, can improve overall weight distribution.

Focusing on the overall number of our cumulative weight distracts us from achieving our fitness goals. Through Water Yoga, we can,

  • Boosts Metabolism
  • Promote and maintain muscle growth
  • Better balance and coordination
  • maintain and increase flexibility
  • Promote brain elasticity by engaging in new movements*

Working in water forces us to adjust the way we move in it. In order to properly isolate muscle groups, and safely utilize the resistance of water. Learning these new techniques and movements strengthens the motor centers in the brain, promoting brain elasticity.

aquafit-slider-2Well that just about wraps up  today’s Swimming Fit Friday. Why Water Yoga -not convinced? Seeing is believing, but why not try a class?

Check out Aqua Fun Academy’s Health and Fitness section in the link below:

http://aquafunacademy.ca/health-fitness/