50 Shades of Swimming Strokes


Following stroke, exercise can be difficult or extremely limited or none existent which causes greater stiffness, often increased pain and often tightened  and shortening of tendons.  

Despite our limitations attempting swimming is still the most beneficial exercise to add to our regular recovery routine. Until the last twelve months, due to set backs, it is something I have made sure somehow I have achieved, then slept following it. I can say first hand it has been extremely beneficial, but now, having had a large period without being able to attempt it, I have increased tightness, pain and stiffness in several areas. This to me highlights the value of this activity. 

It is very easy to talk yourself out of swimming, the obvious hurdles of difficulty getting in and out of a pool, feeling cold and feeling self-conscious. Then having overcome all of this, the difficulties we face once in the water. This aside I can promise the rewards are well worth it. 

Swimmers gain muscle strength throughout the whole body as they utilise more muscle groups to move through the water. If you analyse the usual action of swimming, whilst the legs kick the arms pull the water back, the back reaches and rotates, the stomach tightens to power the legs and stabilise the core, making it a full aerobic workout, something we no longer have.

Although we may no longer be able to carry out this full swimming action, we can do the best for us, which is still highly beneficial and strengthening our muscles which in return aids and improves mobility.  

Although more research is required in this area it is shown that swimming does increase bone density. As an exercise it does require you to reach and stretch whilst the water is holding and supporting. This helps with your flexibility.  

Another benefit is to the heart, it helps strengthen the heart muscle and reduces inflammation which leads to atherosclerosis build up in the heart. It is also good for burning calories and as we may no longer able to exercise as much as we would like, gaining weight can be a problem following stroke. When we are swimming we are generally able to attempt a very moderate style of movement within the water but everything is a benefit so do try to keep that in mind.  

It is also commonplace that depression follows stroke at some stage, whether felt for a short period or suffered regularly. Swimming has been identified as being beneficial at relieving feelings of stress and depression as it releases a natural endorphin kick. It can reverse damage to the brain caused from stress through a process called hippocampal neurogenesis.  

So in conclusion, when we feel least like it, bear in mind how beneficial it is and how much better we will feel afterwards.  

It has also been proven in research that children who swam regularly  had better exam results than those who didn’t and it also helps motor skills, plus helps longevity. Having weighed up all the facts and feeling the tightness and pain I currently do, I realise I definitely need to take action and my own advice!




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