As a swimmer, this is my best kept secret.
Swimming is a unique sport due to the environment in which you’re in. This makes rehabbing a swimmer fairly unique. When I work with athletes, their primary goals are to return to sport and enhance performance. But most sports are on land. Nothing can really replicate swimming out of the water; and so fully reconditioning a swimmer would often be challenging. To reproduce similar forces, leverage, and buoyancy that water applies to a joint has always been difficult. That’s until I discovered Redcord.
Redcord is a suspension system that uses slings to either load or unload parts of your body. These slings create an unstable (but painless) environment that uses your own body as counterweight. The exercises are controlled, safe, and highly specific. I use the Redcord system to help restore precise muscle control so that the athlete can regain function and pain-free movement patterns.
The suspension aspect puts my swimmers in a state similar to being in the pool. Like when we float in water, we have gravity forces pushing down on us, and buoyancy forces pushing up on us. The slings replicate these forces and I am able to finely adjust how much “gravity” you’ll feel on a joint or body part. It's not perfect, but it's the best replication I’ve seen yet.
The suspension system, as you can imagine, also creates an unstable environment which is similar to water. Without having the ground to orient yourself or hold you up with, the system automatically creates instability and makes you recruit more stability muscles so that you can maintain balance. The key stabilizing system to make this happen is (you guessed it) your CORE!
Water is also unique in the sense of forces you’re pushing or pulling against to propel your body. Every surface of a swimmer’s body is responding to those forces. Similarly, I am able to apply the ropes, pulleys and slings to allow resistance anyway I want. This is really cool and nerdy to think about, because during a swimmer's stroke the direction of their pull changes, as they're moving water in front of them to behind them. You can’t do that very effectively with a theraband!
The final reason I use Redcord on my swimmers is the whole body involvement. I can give upper extremity exercises where they’re focusing on one aspect of the stroke, while still having them kick and rotate their body (freestyle example) at the same time.
Swimming demands a high level of muscle control and full body involvement. The diagonal slings and the connection from upper body to lower body are all extremely important. Replicating the swimming motions in the Redcord helps advance my clients faster than traditional PT, thus enhancing their athletic performance both in and out of the water.
The video below shows some basic rotational exercises that I often recommend for higher level athletes.
Check out our overhead athlete page to learn more about how we help swimmers.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are based on the opinion of the author, unless otherwise noted, and should not be taken as personal medical advice. The information provided is intended to help readers make their own informed health and wellness decisions.