A consistent yoga practice designed for swimmers can help you improve your underwater dolphin kick through mobility and strength as well as breath awareness and capacity.
The fifth stroke in swimming, as it is now called, is one of the greatest determining factors of success or failure in almost every race. To excel at this skill you need to work on your:
- Spinal Mobility
- Hip Mobility
- Ankle Mobility
- Core Strength
- Streamline Position
- Breath Control
The undulating movement of the dolphin kick requires a great deal of mobility in both the hips and spine. To apply the power that this movement can potentially create you need to have core strength and ankle mobility.
To apply the power that this motion creates you need to have core strength and ankle mobility.
A pose that will help you develop all three is a variation of the traditional cat cow..
Yoga Poses for Swimmers – Cat Cow with Ankle Mobility
- Start in a table top position (on hands and knees)
- On an inhale lift your tailbone, arch your spine, bring your chest and chin forward while bringing your heels towards your seat and curling your toes towards your shins
- On an exhale place the top of your feet down on the ground, drop your tailbone, round your spine, drop your head and press the top of your feet down lifting your knees and stretching the front of the ankles
Your core is what packs the punch to create speed in your dolphin kick. You need to have mobility to apply the strength of your core, which should initiate the movement. Along with cat/cow, boat pose will both increase the strength and stability of your core which you can then apply to generate more power in your kick.
Yoga Poses for Swimmers – Boat to Canoe
- Start in a seated position with your heels on the ground, toes curled back towards your shins, knees bent and legs together
- Lengthen the spine from the tailbone to the crown of the head, bring your chest forward and engaging your core
- Place your hands at your sides with the palms facing the ceiling
- Dependent on your core strength you can:
- Stay in the position described above
- Shift your weight onto your seat bringing your feet off of the ground
- Bring the legs towards straight with your toes pointed
- Extend your arms reaching towards your feet
- On an exhale slowly lower both your legs and upper body towards the ground with control
- Option to bring the arm overhead coming into a streamline hovering the arms and legs above the ground
- On an inhale rise back up to your boat pose
Creating power is one element of ensuring you have quick underwaters, another is reducing drag in the water. Generating speed is one thing, having a great streamline is another. You’re going to want to do both to get the most out of your kick.
There are many areas to address to improve your ability to create an effective streamline position with one of them being ensuring you can extend through your lats.
Child’s pose will help you do just that.
Yoga Poses for Swimmers – Child’s Pose
- Start on your knees
- Place the top of the feet on the ground with your big toes together knees can be out wide or together
- Fold forward at your hips bringing your head down onto the mat
- Allow your seat to fall back towards your heels
- Fully extend your arms out in front of you
- Once you come to full extension press down into the ground with your finger tips and feel as if you are pulling the mat back towards your arm pits. As you do this you should feel your shoulder blades glide down towards your hips
- If your head is not reaching the mat or the pose feels to uncomfortable in the shoulders, simply place a folded blanket, towel, book, or yoga block underneath your forehead. The pose will get more comfortable over time.
Breath on Count (inhale for 4 exhale for 6 and hold for 2)
The last element you’ll want to work on to bring this all together is breath control. With greater control of your breath comes a greater ability to tolerate levels of carbon dioxide.
The following breathing exercise is a great way to develop that ability.
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