There’s no doubt that swimming has many benefits that far exceed the few issues that very avid swimmers may experience.
The fact that avid swimmers are in water for many hours, impacts skin and hair. And constant exposure to a buoyant non-weight bearing environment can have consequences. Fortunately, there are actions that avid swimmers can take to ward off the impact of these factors.
Spending many, many hours in the water can have an effect on some of the mechanisms our bodies use for posture and increase susceptibility to injuries during dry-land cross-training. But rest easy! There are exercises that help to make this a non-issue.
First of all let’s satisfy your curiosity as to why this happens?
Gluteus minimus is a deep hip joint stabilizer because of its where it is and its relationship to the hip joint capsule. It is more vulnerable to changes caused by activities when the body is in the water. If this happens in the water it can impact how this muscle acts when the swimmer is activities as simple as walking.
There have been lots of recent studies on very complex things such as comparing the gluteus minimus and gluteus medius muscle sizes and activities (in healthy age and gender-matched swimmers, of course) to find out whether there is a difference in the gaits of non-swimmers ad swimmers. The preliminary evidence from this study suggests that the normal, segmental activation of gluteus minimus during gait is not present in avid or elite swimmers. This could cause these athletes to be at risk of lower limb injury during “weight bearing activities”.
What can help reduce the effects of spending so much time in a buoyant environment?
Technically – strengthening the gluteus minimus and improving the muscular activity. (particularly in the low back, hip, and knee)
How does that happen? You have to wake up the butt!
Here are some gluteus exercises that will do that:
Form a side pillar or bridge with your abdominals braced (support the body in a side-lying position with just one foot and one forearm touching the ground.) Stack the legs and place the hand of the upper arm on the hip. Keep your body in a straight line and contract your glutes.
Securely set-up a band waist height. Straighten the elbows. Grasping the band, brace abdominals, and walk out slowly as far as possible while keeping the hands in line with the belly button. Slowly return without letting the band pull force returning to the original position.
Rotation with Band
Set a band at waist height. Turn perpendicular to the band and straighten the arms. Slowly, rotate the back leg and arms forward in a circular motion (in a controlled manner.) Return slowly.
The glutes may not be as involved in the exercise of swimming as some ground-based, weight-bearing sports, but keeping them healthy is important for injury prevention and performance since these muscles key for powerful starts and turns.
Source: About.com Swimming, Gary Mullen, About.com Swimming Expert