Swimming is an intense workout that puts a lot of pressure and causes a build-up of lactic acid in the muscles, especially the leg muscles. So, a good way to avoid this build-up is to engage in some activities that help loosen the muscles and cool down the body, helping you feel refreshed for the next swim race.
Before we discuss these post-swimming activities, let us discuss in detail, why you need to engage in them after swimming.
We also highly recommend that you check out our post “Factors Impacting Recovery Period After a Triathlon Race Listed“
Why Engage in Post Swimming Activities?
Large muscles at the back, arm, and leg become sore after swimming due to its over-activation and an increase in oxygen demand. For this reason, they build up lactic acid which leads to pain.
Engaging in some post-swimming activities that help loosen up these muscles can decrease any future complaints of pain.
Another reason to engage in post-swimming activities asides from pain is to help cool down your body’s senses. Activities such as swimming cause activation of your sympathetic nervous system that upregulates your senses, making you alert and well-oriented.
After such activity, you don’t need your senses on a high, so taking a cool shower or a glass of water can help you cool down while still aiding the repair of your muscles.
Valuable Post-Swimming Activities Listed
There are various forms of stretches you can engage in to help loosen up your muscles and improve your flexibility.
But you should focus on those that target the muscles most involved in swimming such as the calf muscles. Examples of these stretches are:
- Wall calf stretch – Hold onto a wall with both hands pushing against it, one foot away from the wall and the other behind it. Hold at each leg for at least 30 seconds until you feel it stretched.
- Standing Quad stretch – Stand with legs close to each other, then lift one, pulling it close to your glutes. Hold at each leg for a few seconds until it feels stretched.
- Floor hamstring stretch – Lie on the floor with your back, then extend your legs. Bring one up with or without a resistance band and hold for a few seconds until it feels stretched.
Swimming is a calorie burner, so to replenish what’s lost, you need to eat something that will help the recovery process of your muscles within the first 10 – 30 minutes of post-workout.
Here is an article that discusses in detail what to eat before, during and after a triathlon race.
Take a quick bath to rinse the pool chemicals from your skin and hair. This is to prevent the build-up of those chemicals and help your cooling down process.
Keeping your body hydrated helps with muscle recovery and helps the overall maintenance of your body, plus the cooling down process. If you find it difficult to stay hydrated, You can encourage yourself by using motivational bottles that tell you how far you have gone in your water intake.
Getting adequate sleep will help a lot with your recovery process and help you get refreshed for the next day’s event.
Swimming can cause soreness in your muscles, so to help the recovery process, you can get a deep tissue massage.
Swimming activates the sympathetic nervous system so all the body functions are heightened. But with these cool-down exercises, your body functions such as your breathing and heart rate decrease, preparing you for your next race.
Although we all have a different recovery periods, learn to listen to your body’s needs to help you determine how long your recovery takes.