For the past several years Australian world champion and Olympic medalist Mitch Larkin has been incorporating yoga into his training in several ways. Larkin has been working with physiotherapist and yoga teacher Tom Barton to develop a program that improves both performance and prevents injury.
One of the ways he uses yoga on a regular basis is as part of his dry land preparation before heading into the water. Larkin has taken several of the movements and poses that he has worked on with Barton to create his own yoga inspired pre-swim routine.
There are five main focuses in this routine:
- Cross body connection
- Body rotation
- Shoulder activation
- Creating length through the front and the back of the body
Almost all of the movements and poses incorporate a focus on the alignment of the head, ribcage and hips. This creates length through spine as well as activating the core, which are foundations of strong posture both in and out of the water.
Poses that highlight this include the halfway lift and single leg back bridge.
Cross Body Connection
The cross body connection is the link between opposite arm and leg through the core. By bringing awareness to this connection through the activation of the core is an effective way to prepare for freestyle and backstroke.
Two of the ways that this done is through the two-point plank as well as movements from a three legged dog.
Body rotation in this routine is another aspect that is very applicable to swimming both freestyle and backstroke. It is also important in developing spinal mobility, which is an aspect that influences healthy movement through the shoulder joint.
This is highlighted in aspects of the advanced dead bug pose as well as side angle with arms overhead with a twist.
The activation of the shoulders focuses on the posterior aspects of the joint including posterior deltoids, rhomboids and trapezius. This is accomplished by the extension of the shoulders and retraction of the shoulder blades (bringing the shoulder blades towards the spine).
These movements are done with the arms in three different positions:
- Hands by hips
- Arms straight from shoulders (T position)
- And arms overhead in a Y positioning
Creating Length Through the Front and Back of the Body
Activating the spine by moving through flexion and extension creates length in the front and the back of the body. This allows for greater freedom of movement in the spine.
The movements that highlight this are cat cow as well as both the forward fold and sphinx, which are part of Sun Salute A.
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