SHOULD SCUBA DIVERS STRETCH? BENEFITS OF STRETCHING FOR SCUBA DIVING
With the excitement of the dive ahead of you, it’s easy to forget about preparing your body for the workout to follow. Although it may not seem like it, scuba diving can be a strenuous form of exercise. Just like other forms of exercise, scuba diving can result in muscle tightness and soreness. What’s more, overuse of the muscle can result in cramping during your dive.
For beginners, this can be dangerous as panic-stricken divers will immediately want to surface, increasing the risk for decompression sickness and over-expansion of the lungs.
Stretching is an ideal way to alleviate muscle tightness, reduce soreness, and protect you from potentially troublesome cramping during your dive trip.
Types of Stretching
While there are several types of stretching, the two most common and most studied are dynamic and static stretching.
Dynamic Stretching is a type of warm-up and stretch that is used first and followed by static stretching (listed below). Dynamic stretching can be thought of as performing light and gentle movements similar to what you will do during your actual workout. It is when you move the parts of your body that will be the focus of the workout.
For example, if you will perform barbell back squats, an ideal form of dynamic stretching would be a few sets of basic bodyweight squats.
Static Stretching is the type of stretching you’ll see most often in a gym. Unlike dynamic stretching where you will move the muscle in a motion similar to the workout to follow, static stretching is when a you safely hold a muscle group in an elongated state.
For example, when you want to stretch out your shoulder, you might bring your arm across your chest and hold it there with the other arm.
Benefits of Stretching for Scuba Divers
Stretching has been shown to provide a variety of benefits that can improve your health in and out of the water.
Stretching has been shown to improve flexibility. One study published in the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy showed that when hamstrings were warmed up and stretched, they maintained a flexible length for up to 24 hours. This has huge implications for divers as tightness can impact swimming performance, especially in the hamstrings.
Promotes Range of Motion
Your range of motion is the ability to take a muscle group and joint through its natural arc of movement from start to finish. For example, when you are swimming, a full, complete, and healthy range of motion in the arms would allow you to complete each stroke of the swimming pattern without discomfort or pain. When your muscles are tight, or if you have previous injuries, this can limit range of motion.
Studies show that stretching can support a healthy range of motion. Having a healthy range of motion might help to improve your physical performance during the dive. It may also boost your dive experience overall.
Stretching can help with the dive itself but what about afterwards? Every form of exercise, including scuba diving, has the potential to result in delayed on-set muscle soreness (DOMS). Nothing will kill your motivation for a second or third dive faster than too much muscle soreness, especially if it’s coupled with decompression sickness.
A study published in the Journal of Athletic Training showed that subjects who stretched did see a reduction in post-workout soreness.
Stretching Workout for Divers
To get the most benefit from stretching, you should strive to stretch each day for 10 to 20 minutes. Be sure to precede this by a light warm-up such as walking or a dynamic stretch. If you have a dive coming up, try this stretching workout for divers. Use it during the days leading up to the dive, during your boat breaks, and immediately after the dive. Perform each exercise for 30 seconds.
· Side to Side Twists
· Jumping Jacks
· Standing Quadriceps Stretch
· Bent Over Hamstrings Stretch
· Standing Calf Stretch
· Twisting Chest Stretch
· Pulling Back Stretch
Do You Stretch Before You Dive?
Have you noticed a difference in your dive after you stretch? Does stretching reduce your muscle soreness post-dive? Let us know about it in the comments below!