FAQs » Swimming Questions

Question

I am 9 weeks pregnant currently and am swimming 2-3 times per week. I currently swim breast stroke but a friend advised that this position can be dangerous when pregnant - is this right and which stroke should I switch to if it is?? Thanks, Lorna

Answer

Hi Lorna

Firstly let me reassure you that swimming is one of the easiest and best exercise whilst pregnant.It has both non impact CV and muscle toning benefits.

Most swimming strokes are fine, but I would refrain from the strenuous ‘Butterfly’ stroke, and from doing tumble turns in the water.

Depending on the symmetry of your leg kicking action, breast stroke can sometimes aggravate your pelvic, hip and lower back area.
However, this is in no way dangerous to you or you baby. It will simply cause you discomfort, which is your body's message to stop and rest.

If possible, do a variety of different strokes within your swimming session e.g.2 lengths of front crawl, 2 lengths of breast stroke, 2 lengths of back stroke, and repeat this pattern.

This will not only be more effective at working different muscle groups, it will also help to prevent repetitive movement strain on one particular joint and allow recovery.

Also make use of floats to help support you whilst swimming.

Listen to your body, and adapt your swim training accordingly.But do keep it up!


Question

Is it safe to do tumble turns when I swim?

Answer

The answer to your question is that it is not a good idea for you to be doing tumble turns after approx 16 weeks pregnant.

The reason is that the mechanism which initially instigates the tumble turn relies on your abdominal muscles to contract to enable a forward roll.Even though the water is supporting your body, it actually adds more resistance to your forward roll than it would on dry land.

After about 16 weeks your abdominal muscles begin to separate to each side, like a pair of curtains being drawn. This is due to the relaxing effect on your muscles by your hormones, and to the growing size of you tummy. Therefore because your abdominals are weakened, your body relies on your hip flexor muscles instead to enable a forward roll and this movement is not within their job description! Therefore this puts undue pressure on these muscles and may cause instability problems with your pelvis.

In summary, please continue swimming as this is a wonderful exercise, but leave out the tumble turns.