Swimming The Great North Swim

Chiropractor Chris Davies and Practice Manager Jane Hayward have just completed their “Great North Swim”. It was Chris’ first big swim and apart from learning that Lake Windermere is very cold, he shares what else he discovered during the course of training.

“Whilst starting training for the Great North Swim in October 2012 I realised my technique was poor and needed considerable improvement in order for me to complete my goal of swimming half a mile in Lake Windermere the following June.

One of the biggest issues for me when swimming front crawl was that I only breathed to my left.  This caused neck discomfort and shoulder tightness after each swim and eventually required treatment.  However, as my technique and fitness improved over the following months I found that my neck discomfort and lower back felt stronger and I had fewer episodes of neck discomfort and fewer episodes of unrelated low back ache.  This was partly due to the stabilising affect swimming can have on the core muscles in the back.

When people come to see us at Stockton Chiropractic Clinic and say that they have tried swimming and that they generally enjoy it but they suffer from neck pain and tightness. The pain is typically caused by keeping their neck extended when swimming breaststroke to avoid putting their face in the water.  Correcting this technical error would most likely prevent the neck symptoms.

Shoulder problems can also develop from poor technique as our shoulders and arms are not designed for the prolonged and repetitive movements that are carried out whilst swimming.  Impingement problems in the shoulder are a common problem when one shoulder is loaded too much typically again due to poor breathing technique.

Many resources are available on the internet regarding swimming technique.  I have found http://www.swimsmooth.com/ and www.youtube.com very useful.

Swimming is a great form of non-weight bearing exercise if done correctly however, if you are having problems with your swimming technique please seek advice from a qualified swimming coach and of course check first with your G.P. if you have any doubts about taking up swimming.”

Chris Davies