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Swimming and skiing

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
Anyone actively do it?

Anyone do it during the ski season?

My PT is strongly urging me to do swimming 6 days a week along with the plyometric exercises he has me doing. I know it can get you in shape very quickly and it's a good rehab for my back and knee, but I know that it's not recommended for skiers.

What do you think? I don't want to ruin my form.
post #2 of 25
There is nothing wrong with swimming.
post #3 of 25
Thread Starter 
I've heard it has too much rotation and therefore ruins your coordination on the hill.
post #4 of 25
If you can't do anything else then swim. Swimming does not relate to skiing. It won't give you strength and the endurance you gain won't lend itself to skiing.

They are very opposite sports.
post #5 of 25
I have to disagree! I believe that swimming is the absolute best exercise to strengthen your core. Having a strong core helps maintain your balance. How does that not help with skiing? I'm on a Masters swimming team and work out 3 times a week. I've never been in better shape for ski season than I have since I started swimming. In order to have a powerful stroke, you must have a strong inside half. You lead with your hip before you start your pull, much the same as when your really having to get up on your edges on the steeps. So keep up the swimming. It's great rehab for virtually any injury and it can only help, not hurt your skiing!
post #6 of 25
Thread Starter 
How many yards are you doing a day? Right now I can do 500; 800 if I want to push it and hurt for the rest of the day in about 40-60 minutes. I need to be doing at least 2000 and much quicker by the beginning of November if I stand a chance of being in good ski shape, again.
post #7 of 25
I'm doing between 3000 to 3500 yards 3 times a week.

I swam 3 miles (4800 yards on Monday). That's the farthest that I've swam so far.

I swim with a great group of people led by a Gunni sargent type of coach who knows what she's talking about. I could hardly go 50 yards when I first started 2 years ago!
post #8 of 25
I have to agree with Snowmiser. Saying that swimming ruins your skiing because the required hip rotations ruins your coordination is the same as saying that good freestyle stroke technique ruins your pole plant, causing you to windmill your arms. Lots of us play both tennis and golf, but we know how to swing differently in each sport. Similarly, I can rotate my hips to swim and stay perfectly centered on my skis.

I've been swimming off and on, long distances, both open water and in pools, for 30 years. Sometimes, I'm able to keep it going in the winter, but most of my swimming is in the summer.

I started at 18 as part of an ACL reconstruction rehab program. Those ski seasons that follow a summer of big yardage swimming (2,000 to 3,000 about 3 times a week) have always been better. At the very least, I'm usually thinner. Anything you can do aerobically is good preparation for skiing. The only thing swimming doesn't do is help protect against osteoporosis (no weight bearing). The old adage really is true -- you can't ski to get in shape, but you must get in shape to ski. Swimming is just one quiver in that arsenal of techniques for getting in shape to ski.
post #9 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Snowmiser View Post
I have to disagree! I believe that swimming is the absolute best exercise to strengthen your core. Having a strong core helps maintain your balance...

I don't know if swimming is better than certain other training approaches but it can help in at least the following ways:

1) As Snomiser points out it is a very good core strengthening exercise.

2) There are multiple strokes and exercises that you can do in the water. Each provide their own benefits. Sprints certainly correlate to explosive type demands that skiing places on the body. A kick-board and/or fins can be used to further strengthen leg muscles.

3) Swimming is relatively low impact form of exercise, saving your joints and body for the slopes.

4) Distance swimming can be helpful for other endurance related physical activities, including skiing.

5) Swimming is a very good cardio-vascular exercise that can do wonders for your blood pressure, heart rate and mood.

6) I think that swimming in conjunction with a suitable weight training program can be a excellent combination for skiing.

Having said this, simply swimming with a freestyle stroke will benefit your trunk and upper body much more than your legs. It will also strengthen your upper back and shoulders more than your pecs. This can lead to "swimmers slouch" if you don't also exercise complementary muscles.

I've been swimming a mile-or so regularly for much of my life.
It's great exercise and helpful in skiing. But you need to make sure that whatever exercise regimen you adopt that you work complementary muscle groups hamstrings/quads etc.

Exercises/sports often mentioned that have a very clear relationship to skiing fitness also include inline skating, tennis, socer, biking, surfing and weight training. I'm sure that there are others. To the extent that any of these activities have a muscle group bias eg. biking you need to exercise complementary muscle groups.
post #10 of 25
I seem to remember somewhere I read studies that showed swimming to be the second best exercise right behind power walking.

Surfing can indeed help as well. Some of the sensations of riding are the same and the CV and arm strength needed to paddle out sometimes can be totally exhausting.
post #11 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Uncle Louie View Post
I seem to remember somewhere I read studies that showed swimming to be the second best exercise right behind power walking.

Surfing can indeed help as well. Some of the sensations of riding are the same and the CV and arm strength needed to paddle out sometimes can be totally exhausting.
I'm a swimming coach and swimming is a great conditioner. But it's not a great way to build strength. You need legs for skiing and kicking type exercise won't cut it.

Swimming is great for flexibility, joint and muscle. Swimmers get hurt when they ski - their joints are stretched and flexible. "Too much of a good thing". Swimming might be a better 'supplement' to your strength program. And running offers more effective endurance training for skiing.

It's also hard for most people to push themselves in swimming workouts. If you train like a competitive swimmer, you'll see the training effect. If you just do laps, you won't see much crossover benefit for skiing.
post #12 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bohemian View Post
I've heard it has too much rotation and therefore ruins your coordination on the hill.
This is one area where I (me personally) think that there is crossover.

Being a swimmer and working on efficiency and stroke improvement is similar to what skiers do. Skiers learn to move their bodies better, to align better, transfer momentum, apply controlled pressure... It's whole body coordination and movement efficiency, and it's working with yourself.

Swimming is like that too.

But skiing is a sport connected to gravity and the physical needs of a skier are strength, endurance and flexible but durable muscles. Joint flexibility for a swimmer is not the same as for a skier.
post #13 of 25
”I'm a swimming coach and swimming is a great conditioner. But it's not a great way to build strength. You need legs for skiing and kicking type exercise won't cut it.”

I am a Master's swimmer and may I add this discussion should be focused toward the type of swimming workout or length of event a swimmer is focusing upon. Everyone is making generalizations about all genres of sports as a "conditioning" activity for skiing and I DOUBT that really exists outside of the hair-raising pre--post-during the season workouts of WC class athletes.

I believe everyone else in between is better served at what Howie Long once said and introduced (yes it was 90% marketing hype for Nike) cross training and its benefits. Over the long term, I believe it is proven that cross training in a variety of sports enhaces conditioning for, in Long's case- American football at the nose-guard position, in reducing his season long number and severity of injuries incurred.

Swimming, in my case, is 50m or maximum 100m sprints and in fact I focus on 100m(25m each) IM(individual medley) in short course events. Therefore, it serves me best to practice and focus on intensive sprints, flip turns, transition turn(between the differnent discipline in IM) and the start. All with explosive- (short muscle enhancement) in nature, for lack of a better phrase.

Stretching my analogy is the guy who does 50m sprints vs. the 1500m or greater middle-distance runner. I would make an unsupported (by statistical massaged data and results) claim that the skier at anything less than WC level status might be better served to make his "running or jogging" menu based on the 50 yd. person vs. the 1500m persons.'  Moreover, a swimmer is better served to do his swimming workouts that concentrate on all disciplines in intense shorter durations, using bouys, kickboards, fins, and clothing that causes drag in the water to further enhance my sprinting capabilty...thus my focus on short-course Masters events with the intent of cross-training benefits for alpine and telemark skiing in the winter (yes, I continue to swim during the ski season too).

We might be all better served to focus on the type of workout or menu WITHIN the sport we plan to use for "conditioning" for skiing, is my point.
post #14 of 25
That was well said, MMDJ.

The earlier point on core conditioning is valid, imho. Someone who is out of shape and able to get a workout with swimming could be well served. But the idea of strength training in the pool for a sport like skiing, as far as I am concerned is not so great.

What any athlete needs to evaluate is the training effect. Are you able to get your heart rate up? Are you able to gain true strength?

Running and weight training would be the basics. Fitness training works too, if the program is a good one. Cross training works. But the key remains, are you getting strength and conditioning appropriate for the sport.
post #15 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Jones View Post
...Swimming is great for flexibility, joint and muscle. Swimmers get hurt when they ski - their joints are stretched and flexible. "Too much of a good thing". Swimming might be a better 'supplement' to your strength program. And running offers more effective endurance training for skiing...
I understand the "stretched and flexible" point and I agree that swimming is best complemented by a strength training program. I'm not the greatest fan of running though its short term benefits are clear. I know too many people who have trashed knees, shin splints and other ailments by the time they reach 40 or so, or even before, from years running on concrete and other hard surfaces. This will definitely impact or limit their skiing or, at the minimum, cause Advil shares to rise in value. Swimming is a relatively low risk sport as far as physical activities go.

With proper shoes on the right surfaces, I imagine running is fine. Certainly the young will benefit from running as a ski conditioning exercise though they may pay for it later in life.

Both skiing and swimming can be lifetime activities as is less true of many other physical activities. Neither is the ultimate form of exercise, IMHO. Aerobic and anaerobic activities need to be mixed up as well as load bearing and non-load bearing exercise to get the best overall results.

Alpine skiing is primary anaerobic biased though endurance counts if you are going to be skiing all day as opposed to two runs through a GS or SL race course. Distance swimming is aerobic biased and sprints anaerobic. I suggest mixing them up. Typically the YMCA or the like will post a varied training regimen each day at the pool. There are also quite a few books on swimming with different daily regimens outlined. But I agree that its best combine swimming with some pre-season strength training program.
post #16 of 25
I totally agree that you have to cross-train in order to get in really good skiing shape. I run and bike in addition to swimming. Biking is very similar to skiing and also can help with balance.
post #17 of 25
Combine the two. Form follows function.

post #18 of 25
Is that Phil?
post #19 of 25
Maybe we should do a swimmer's movement analysis on that guy Bonnie. Do you think he'd be a willing participant?
post #20 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bonni View Post
Combine the two. Form follows function.

Just so folks know, that's not me.

As far as his form, well, it could stand some improvement.
post #21 of 25
No rotation, is swimming flat. Also, his arm stroke timing has a big dead spot, no catch -up in the stroke.
post #22 of 25
I don't think we should cross-post that picture on the movement analysis forum, but it would be a pretty good example for the ski instruction & technique forum of how simple suggestions can be wildly misunderstood.

This poor guy was told it was a powder day and (A) he should "bring his snorkel" and (B) he didn't need his other equipment, since all that would be necessary was "some mid fat(s)"...




In a wild saving stab to get back on topic, almost any exercise that works the whole body and doesn't put excessive wear and tear on the joints is good (so that swimming is probably a good supplement to your plyometrics which will do plenty to maintain your bone density but will also take a toll on knees and connective tissue that swimming does not, but running also does) BUT (1) lots of us have very little time, and so we focus on exercise programs that are more directly complementary or have some balance or other transfer to skiiing (Tommy Moe liked white water kayaking because like skiing it had a "line picking" component like skiing or downhill running through sagebrush); and (2) if you really get way out there in physical conditioning for skiing, it's often nice to have a conditioning program that helps to minimize strength imbalances that your main conditioning program creates.

(My quads, for example, are relatively strong, so I try to emphasize hamstring isolation exercises in the gym, in addition to my more functional squats and lunges. Recently learned in physical therapy for my knee that my relatively strong quads and hamstrings may be much stronger than my hip and gluteal muscles, which imbalance may be contributing to knee pain...)
post #23 of 25

Just my opinion...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bohemian View Post
Anyone actively do it?

Anyone do it during the ski season?

My PT is strongly urging me to do swimming 6 days a week along with the plyometric exercises he has me doing. I know it can get you in shape very quickly and it's a good rehab for my back and knee, but I know that it's not recommended for skiers.

What do you think? I don't want to ruin my form.
Another poster mentioned "core-strengthening" via swimming. Another point brought up was "balancing" muscle conditioning with injury prevention as it's main purpose.

If I may, I would like to say, that plyometric exercises simulating skiing movements, WITHOUT A DOUBT, are the best sports science supported- conditioning activity. On the other hand, can John or Jenny L. Q. Public...non WC level, time-stressed, skier put together the best conditioning/injury preventive workout menu?

I doubt it (I cannot). And if one is put together, I might add it would be either counter-productive to your "goals," possiblity dangerous. Thus, the mixed-stew comment ensues "...well, doing something (swimming) is better than not doing anything at all." ??????

Naturally, I can only speak for myself. So stepping off my soap box (I am no professional trainer or sports scientist), may I suggest you swim to strengthen "core" aspects of fitness. And if you dislike running endless laps- power walking(using various leg and arm attachments) in the pool is an alternative.

I continue to swim(compete in Masters meets too)as a exercise during the ski season for its theraputic benefits. For example, after running SL gates or doing drills on the hill, I can feel the how swimming assists my body as a whole, more efficiently deal, with soreness and fatigue of skiing. A kind of unwinding effect of the muscles.

Unwinding muscle groups or "loosening of the joints," as some posters have mentioned, maybe where many concerns are raised. Whether this is counter productive to fitness for skiing I don't know. I suspect, balanced strength within muscle groups (mentioned by another poster) is far more important than increasing super specific plyometric strength alone. And might assist in injury prevention or be the significant reason why recovery or rehabilitation is successful after an injury.

This balance in workout approach may be even more important as we age or attempt to sustain Masters ski skills as I am attempting to do.

A third issue, for me that is, is the cross-mental benefits of group swimming workouts (twice a week with fellow Master's competitors), supplemented by an impending swim meet. Skiing, at least in my image training/perception of running a Master's level SL course, is not so different then pacing oneself in a 100m or 200m swim event. Mentally, that is. Dealing with competitive stress while sprinting I beleive assists more than detracts in my attempts to be a faster skier and faster swimmer.

To be honest, my primary goal is to improve my Master's SL times. Swimming just happened to be a secondary conditioning activity (along with pre-season plyometric exercises). But as all swimmers know, it is tough to motivate oneself doing laps... to a level where swimming assists in ski fitness, so I started Master's Swimming workouts/meets, as a personal experiment of extracting those benefits of cross conditioning between skiing and swimming. We shall see if my whacky approach bears any fruit during the 2007-8 ski season. Only the Big EpicSki Kahuna knows...

Good luck to you Bohemian
post #24 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lostboy View Post
1) .... very good core strengthening exercise.
2) There are multiple strokes and exercises ...
3) Swimming is relatively low impact form of exercise...
4) Distance swimming can be helpful for other endurance ...
5) Swimming is a very good cardio-vascular exercise ...
6) I think that swimming in conjunction with a suitable weight training ...
7) It's fun!

As skiers we should all know not to lose track of why we're on the trip of life in the first place.
post #25 of 25

Clearly, this is a rather old thread, but this question is very close to my own heart, so I thought I'd answer.

I do both sports competitively and while I am not elite in either, I think I do pretty well for my age (58)...last year between 13-20 handicaps in multiple Epic Mix runs (>10 runs) and close to 30 flat in 50 meter freestyle and 39 in breaststroke in the same distance. As a youth, I was a much more serious skier than swimmer, and only swam (for a club team) to give myself something to do in the offseason. Back then, in the 70s, no one was lifting, cross-training, or watching their nutrition in either sport! The only thing I remember is that swimmers were told not to lift weights because it would make us bulky (who knew?). 

Whether or not there is transfer of fitness and training only needs to be answered if one is a serious masters racer. For us beer league/weekend warriors types, especially 58-year olds like me with some health challenges (the usual...hypertension, borderline diabetic), I take my exercise wherever I can get it. Although my ski racing at this point is restricted to EpicMix and NASTAR races, and I don't really train, I've done much better in the last few years. 

 

Is there a connection? For me, I think it is just a function of being in better condition. If I am not swimming, I am probably doing nothing. I now log 2000-2500 yards 3-4 times a week and also do a bit of weight training. If I am lucky, I log 20 days a year skiing. I DO find that despite swimming, I still get very sore my first few days out on the slopes, so despite being aerobically well-conditioned, those ski muscles still need to be trained.

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