Body rotation gives us forward momentum, pressure on the water, activates the correct muscles and allows the arm to exit and recover over the water naturally. What have we missed? Nothing. Rotation is key to a smooth freestyle and backstroke.
What do we mean by rotation? We mean the swinging of the trunk and legs from side to side as we swim. We do not swim flat on our stomachs. Even though this provides a bigger surface area to float on, it becomes problematic when swimming freestyle or backstroke.
5 reasons why you should rotate:
1. Injury prevention
The most important reason for adult learnt swimmers is injury prevention. By rotating we put ourselves in a more favourable position to use the big back muscles when pulling instead of using the weaker shoulder muscles. This applies to both freestyle and backstroke.
2. Arm recovery
A good body rotation will give you more space to execute a correct arm recovery. If we do not rotate the trunk and hips, the exiting arm cannot recover naturally over the water. It has to come out the side and cannot bend but remains straight. This places a large load on the shoulder rotator cuff. Swimming like this can lead to shoulder injury.
3. Engaged core
As we utilise a greater range of pelvic and shoulder rotation in the stroke, core fitness levels will also increase due to greater involvement of the trunk muscles. This enhanced core strength will likely improve the overall performance of our swimming.
4. Apply extra force
The rotation from side to side provides a counter rotation moment as we start the pull-through and start rotating to the other side. This counter rotation provides extra force on the water to push against. The quicker we can rotate, the more force we can create to push against, generating more propulsion.
5. Improved stroke timing
The rotation of the body doesn’t just happen. It requires work and timing. We want to snap the hips from side to side. As mentioned above this comes with enhanced core strength but also a conscious effort. The timing can be explained as part of a visualisation. Imagine that you have two same pole magnets, one in your hand and one in your hip. As the hand pushes backwards toward the hip, it pushes the hip away from it and towards the water surface. Try and rotate as quickly as possible.
A quick and well-timed rotation will add “oomph” to your stroke and prevent common shoulder injuries. Two very good reasons to get out there and turn it on.