Incorporate these three simple stretching exercises into your daily routine and you’ll soon have the flexibility of a yoga master. OK, maybe not that flexible, but you should benefit from increased range of motion after just a few weeks. Plus, a nutrition tip your joints will love.
Most of us find being underwater pure bliss. But getting into a wetsuit, climbing up the boat ladder, reaching down to pick up a dropped piece of gear or even turning our heads to look for a buddy requires flexibility that our bodies lose as we age. Important joints and muscles that benefit from stretching not only before a dive but also in everyday life are the ones surrounding the shoulders, hips, hamstrings and lower back. Here are a few simple stretches that will help make you a stronger — and more confident — diver. Remember: No stretch should be painful, so modify any exercise to stay within your comfort zone.
1) Elbow Pull
Targets >> The shoulder and upper back
Diver Benefits >> Helps with the pulling motion of swimming
Start by placing one hand behind your head and point the elbow upwards, keeping it as straight as possible. Place the opposite hand on the elbow and pull towards your ear and hold for 20 to 30 seconds, Switch arms and repeat. Do two repetitions.
2) Toe Touches
Targets >> The lower back and hamstrings
Diver Benefit >> Helps with kicking
Start by standing with straight posture. Cross one leg over the other and slowly bend forwards from the hips until it is uncomfortable. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds with no bouncing. Switch legs and repeat. Do two repetitions on each side.
3) Child’s Pose
Targets >> The hips, thighs, lower back and ankles
Diver Benefit >> Helps with tasks associated with diving, like climbing the boat ladder
Begin in a kneeling position and sit on your feet with your heels pointing outwards. Your knees should be separated, about the width of your hips. Place your forehead on the floor, then swing your arms forward. Rest your forehead on the floor, then bring your arms around and to your sides, palms facing upwards. Focus on relaxing your lower back.
Five Tips to Sticking with an Exercise Routine
• Set goals for yourself. For example, choose four days a week you’ll perform these exercises.
• Start slowly; when the repetitions become easier, increase the number of sets.
• Before suiting up and getting into the water, allow a few minutes to stretch, which will decrease chances of injuries while diving.
• Stretch after a dive. This help will decrease soreness after a dive.
• Be patient and stick with it, and before too long you will feel the benefits of improving flexibility!
Nutrition Tip > Do your joints a favour and make sure you include foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids in your diet, as these reduce inflammation in joints — and are also great for your heart. Most fish have these fatty acids but it can also be taken as a supplement. Try to get 2 grams per day; 4 ounces of salmon provides that amount. Veggies like lettuce, spinach, sweet potatoes and string beans have antioxidants that help with joint repair.
Chadd Lin is a certified personal trainer with a B.S.in exercise science. He makes his home in Tennessee.