Ways Swimming May Help Your Martial Arts

UFC fighters Liz Carmouche and Ashley Yoder grapple underwater in preparation for upcoming fights. Donald Miralle for ESPN

In order to become a great martial artist, routine practice and strict discipline must be employed. However, martial arts can also be taxing in more ways than one. It can fatigue your muscles and leave you feeling bruised. It can require a great deal of your energy and become hard to sustain. Given that martial arts is already a form of exercise, and one that tends to sap the participants, why would you want to further deplete yourself by adding another type of exercise to your routine in the form of swimming?

Swimming for Invigoration and Recovery

Water provides gentle resistance. Many people use water exercise to maintain healthy muscle tone when recovering from an injury (such as a broken foot) or chronic problems (such as arthritis). When you are feeling especially weak or fatigued, to the point that other types of exercise may feel counterproductive, some types of swimming can even provide a soothing experience.

Many types of exercise, such as lifting weights, tend to contract or shorten muscle. Swimming helps stretch and elongate the muscles, repairing flexibility and range of motion. It engages every major muscle of your body, including legs, arms, core and glutes. Yet it puts very little strain on your joints, making it a great low-impact activity.

With these benefits alone, you may be ready to investigate inground pool cost or community pool options to get started improving your recovery, but swimming also offers more benefits to pique your excitement.

Learning To Control Breathing

In order to be effective, fast and agile, you must have adequate oxygenation. Without sufficient oxygen, the body and mind become more sluggish and tired. Your reflexes may be compromised, and your swings may not land. Your ability to calculate and anticipate your opponent’s moves may become slow and muddled. Therefore, learning to control breathing to keep your oxygenation high even under extreme exertion is crucial.

Swimming laps forces you to focus on your breathing more than non-aquatic activities tend to. In order to achieve good form and fast times, you must learn to strictly control the timing of your breath and synchronize it to your swim strokes. Without excellent control, you may be forced to disrupt your progression and take a break in order to catch up.

Practicing the mindfulness involved in achieving an ideal swim stroke can help you translate that same mindfulness to your martial arts. Like in swimming, learning to control your breathing during a match may help you avoid having to slow down your movements to catch up your oxygenation.

Mimicking the Movements of Martial Arts

While activities such as weight-training can be great for bulking up muscle and increasing the weight you can lift, they may not be as beneficial for the way your muscles are put to the test during martial art matches.

Pursuing martial arts has little to do with bulking up and high weight limits but a lot to do with endurance. In fact, it requires significant endurance, tending to push you to the limit. Focusing your attention on other methods of increasing your endurance is a good idea.

There are many endurance activities you can choose, such as dancing, cycling or running, but aerobic water activity may be an excellent complement to your martial arts. Through aquatic exercise, you can replicate the movements of your martial arts practice while using the resistance of the water to approximate the resistance you will experience in a match.

Training yourself to make swift movements in spite of the water resistance may even improve your speed when you’re up against your next opponent. Swimming is also great for maintaining or improving your shoulder’s range of motion, which is another key component of martial arts.

Next time you are sore and tired from practicing martial arts, give swimming a try. Not only could it help with your recovery, but it may also improve your practice and matches by leaps and bounds. Investing in a way to dive into swimming may pay you back handsomely by upping your game.

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