How does swimming affect the muscles?
Many people swim in order to maintain their health. This kind of swimming is a real, relaxing and long-term training designed for recreation. This type of training certainly increases cardiovascular endurance, but the question is whether people can use swimming to build muscles.
The muscle is a tissue in the human body which requires much more energy for normal functioning compared to any other tissue. This means that this activity triggers increased calorie consumption. The muscles play an important role in the process of movement and their importance is increasing in old age because aside from movement, they are significant for the recovery of bones and prevention of osteoporosis. Since muscles provide proper posture and movement, learning more about the mechanisms by which swimming strengthens muscles is extremely important especially if swimming is the only physical activity that is being used. There are basically three mechanisms that help the process of muscle development.
Mechanical tension – This is a term used to describe muscle tension as if a muscle wants to be separated from the bones. Swimming, like all other dynamic physical activities, causes the occurrence of passive and active elastic tension in the muscles. If a person is involved in recreational swimming, mechanical tension is very low. If the training sessions are more frequent and more intense, both active and passive tension is significantly higher.
Metabolic stress – Imagine that you are swimming quickly for more than 200 yards. You can imagine the feeling that you have in the legs, arms and stomach in this situation. This phenomenon is called metabolic stress and occurs only in situations where great physical load is involved. Metabolic stress occurs during hypoxia (lack of oxygen in the muscles).
Damage to the muscles – Muscle pain reaches its maximum about 48 hours after the exercise. This is a delayed muscle inflammation that happens a day after the training. Muscle damage occurs at the beginning of training and is often the result of using new exercises and other activities. Introducing new exercises is important to increase muscle mass. However, using different exercises and additional equipment in the pool can increase muscle mass. One example of the use of equipment that can increase muscle mass is the use of fins, paddles, spatulas for arms etc. These things create resistance when swimming. This equipment allows the use of new exercises for swimming and it can increase muscle mass too.