Swimming Series: Swimming with a Snorkel

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Swimming Series: Swimming with a Snorkel

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HOW SWIMMING WITH A SNORKEL CAN DECREASE PAIN AND IMPROVE PERFORMANCE

In the last part of our swimming series, we are going to focus on one important modification that can be made with swimmers to decrease neck and shoulder pain during swimming. The recommendation I love to make for my patients is the swim snorkel. Now it can definitely take some getting used to, no matter if you are a recreational or competitive swimmer, but today we’ll discuss some of the unique benefits of utilizing this piece of equipment.

  1. Encourages you to keep your face down during freestyle. Swimmers naturally pick their head up when swimming freestyle as a natural instinct to be able to see where they are going. This can increase tension in the muscles at the base of the neck, increasing pain and affecting postural alignment. While using the snorkel doesn’t entirely eliminate the need to pick the head up to search for the wall, it does encourage you to look down.
  2. Forces you to keep your head straight. Many people tend to turn their head to the same side (dominant side) when swimming, which if you are having difficulty with turning your head one way, it can increase neck pain by repetitively moving into a painful movement. The snorkel won’t allow you to turn your head to the side, or you’ll be in for a big surprise!
  3. You can move more efficiently. You can actually get a faster stroke by swimming with a snorkel, because it eliminates as much side-to-side movement.  Because you are in a straight-line posture, you are able to get better propulsion through the hips and shoulders. One study found that swimmers that trained with a snorkel during a 100-m sprint found a 6% increase in speed in breaststrokers and 5% increase in speed in freestylers.