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  • Writer's pictureAlexandre Calamaro

Swimming & Osteopathy

Swimming, one of the World’s most unique sports, as it is practiced in an infrequent and almost uncharted environment: water.

According to the Institute of Physics, water is more or less 830 times denser than air [1], which makes swimming a challenging sport. Compared to most inland activities, swimming is a non weight-bearing exercise, which reduces the risks of early onsets of degenerative diseases, such as osteoarthritis, spondylosis and spondylarhthorisis.

Swimming was discovered 4 millenniums ago [2], in Ancient Egypt, and is still regarded as one of the most complete all-around body developing sports.

Indeed, swimming doesn’t only allow the body to evolve, but has incredible benefits on physical and mental health.

Benefits of swimming:

Here are some benefits, first, on physical health [3].

As mentioned above, swimming is:

  • A complete full body workout sport

  • Can reduce the risk of early onset of degenerative diseases

Like any other sport, one must develop or have a good technique. Swimming improves coordination!

Other benefits on physical health are:

  • Regulation of blood sugar

  • Decreasing the risk of heart conditions

  • Have a better impact on sleeping cycle and hygiene (going to bed and waking up around the same time every day) [4].

Sports are known to have a positive effect on mental health, and swimming is no exception!

Indeed, [4] swimming can help relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression, and reduces stress [5].

Swimming and osteopathy:

Just like in all other sports, injuries can occur in swimming. The main cause of injuries is an overuse of a limb such as the shoulder or knee, or an area in the body, such as the spine [6-7]. The overuse could be due to a number of causes, but the most common ones are ligament laxity (loose ligaments) and muscle fatigue [6].

In order to prevent injuries or help restore function of a damaged area, multiple disciplines exist, and osteopathy is one of them!

Osteopathy has 4 main principles which are taught and explained to everyone coming for treatment [8]:

  • The Body is Unit -> the body is considered as whole! Each part affects every other part and the whole is greater than simply the sum of its parts.

  • Structure governs Function -> If the structure of the body is compromised (through trauma causing an injury, overuse, a strain), then it is very likely to have an adverse affect on its function (display as pain, stiffness, instability).

  • The Body is its own “Medicine Chest” -> Every human being has their own built in healing mechanisms, which can be stimulated and supported by removing restrictive barriers. Once the latter are removed, the body is usually able to resolve all but the most serious conditions.

  • The “Rule of the Artery” is supreme -> For healing to happen, there needs to be a good enough blood supply to provide the troubled area with the necessary immune cells and nutrients.

When consulting an osteopath, he/she will assess the issue(s), apply the latter principles, and execute a plan of action to restore a state of homeostasis.

In order to reach the latter, osteopaths use a combination of techniques which include:

  • Soft tissue techniques (massage, neuromuscular techniques, muscle energy techniques) [8].

  • Joint mobility techniques such as mobilisations and High Velocity Low Amplitude Thrusts (HVLAT), also known as adjustments [9].

Osteopaths are also able to give advice, regarding the training, warming up and stretching phases [10].

  • Incorporating dynamic movements in the warm up routine, focusing specifically on swimming motions such as the strokes and leg kicking. This will stimulate the nervous system and reduce the risk of injury.

  • Stretches after the swim will reduce the risk of cramps and injuries.

  • Outside of the pool, a strengthening program targeting muscle groups such as the shoulder and upper back complex, lower limbs and spine can definitely help an individual to improve overall.

That concludes this paper. If you have any queries about sports injuries, or you simply wish to come and seek osteopathic treatment, please, do not hesitate to book an appointment.

Do not forget: your body is built to move!

Listen and trust your body, but most importantly, do take care of yourself!

See you then,

Alexandre Calamaro

Registered Osteopath 10928


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