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Resistance bands have been around the sport and fitness industry for many decades and most of you will have seen or used one before. They are convenient to use, extremely portable, and about as versatile as training equipment gets, but do you value their functionality, or even understand the benefits they can have to your swimming performance? To alleviate the question marks, here are the 3 essential reasons why a resistance band should be in your swim bag – at all times!

1. Resistance Training: Resistance bands provide the opportunity to focus on a specific muscle group or a full-body workout of exercises. Typically, band exercises are performed without stabilisation from external sources, so they are great at activating your core stabilising muscles during exercise. The bands also allow you to train safely at varying speeds (meaning the potential to train strength, power, and endurance using one piece of equipment), which is often difficult to achieve and not always advisable when using free weights. In addition, research has shown that athletes who incorporate resistance band training alongside their conventional resistance (weight) training, demonstrated significantly greater strength and power gains than those that just participated in resistance training alone. 

2. Sport-Specific Conditioning: Due to their multi-directional tension potential, resistance bands are at the forefront of sport-specific conditioning training programs. Swimmers are able to mimic stroke movement patterns whilst exercising under resistance. For example, in the frontcrawl swim stroke, there are many areas that can be targeted using a resistance band (simulating the stroke's kicking and arm pulling actions under tension from the band). Training in this sport-specific manner will not only strength and condition the exact muscles used in swimming but can also lead to advancements in technical ability. By training in a sport-specific manner, with resistance acting on the body, you can enhance your proprioception (“feel” for the water and awareness of where your body is in relation to its orientation in space). By repeatedly practicing swim-specific movements on land with a resistance band, you can become more technically and physically aware of swimming stroke movement patterns. Of course, nothing beats performing the movement in the water, but such exercises provide the crossover from land to the water.

3. Sport Rehabilitation: Probably the most important reason to ensure a resistance band is in your swim bag is associated with the rehabilitative or “prehabilitative” effects. Of particular interest, sports rehabilitation research has shown that swimmers integrating functional band exercises frequently into their normal training regime experienced significantly less incidences of shoulder pain than swimmers who didn't used them. It appears that functional resistance band exercises increase neuromuscular control and force-coupling co-activation of reciprocal muscle groups that surround the shoulder joint. What this means is that the band exercises seem to help the muscles around the shoulder joint function correctly and activate when necessary. If reciprocal muscle groups (i.e. internal shoulder rotators and external shoulder rotator muscles) function in a normal synchronised conduct, the likelihood of joint pain and muscle fatigue is reduced, which is definitely advantageous for swimmers!

So why not add a resistance band workout to your regular land training regime, or even on poolside before you jump in the water. Stay tuned for our special resistance band training pack, which will be available very soon! MP Team