Backstroke Recovery

After the pull phase, proper recovery is the next phase of helping you execute the backstroke. Hand position is the most important part of the recovery in backstroke pull.

Make sure your hand is exiting the water thumb first and entering pinky first by flipping your hand during the recovery. This will set up your arm into the perfect position for a powerful pull.

Rolling your shoulders during the stroke will help to prevent strain on the joint. Keeping the arms straight during recovery ensures you are pulling from the very top of your stroke to the very bottom, maximizing the distance of your pull and the power.

Check out Backstroke Pull

By Emily Lehr

Emily is a full-time customer service representative and part-time Lifeguard/Instructor at MacEwan University Sport and Wellness. She has seven years of experience coaching competitive swimming.

Ankle Rocking

Ankle Rocking is the first exercise in our warm up series. The ankle joint should be warmed up with mobility in mind. An immobile ankle can affect the chain all the way up the leg and into the low back. Mobilizing the ankle joint through a rocking motion can help with plantar and dorsiflexion of the foot. This movement is critical to squatting and jumping type activities. 

Objective

  • Mobilize the joints and improve preparedness of surrounding joint tissues to reduce the risk of injury

Joints Targeted

  • Ankle

Needs

  • Stability

Muscle Groups Targeted

  • Calves, Achilles tendon, tibialis anterior

Starting Position

  • ½ Kneeling position (foam mat under knee for comfort), front foot is a few inches away from the wall to start, tall posture

Movement

  • Starting in the half kneeling position front and back knee are bent roughly 90 degrees, thighs underneath the hips
  • Once in position, rock the ankle back and forth, tracking the knee over the toes
  • Watch/feel the position of the heel. People with ankle mobility restrictions are likely to lift the heel
  • Bonus: You can make the drill multi planar by rocking/pointing the knee towards the big toe, down your shoelaces and finally the baby toe

Recommended sets and repetitions

  • Two to three sets of 12 to 15 reps (Four to five in each direction)
  • Progress movement with greater range of movement by moving away from the wall. Remember to keep the heel down throughout the range

Kyle Dunlop holds a Bachelor of Kinesiology and is certified with the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology and National Strength and Conditioning Association as a Certified Exercise Physiologist and Strength and Conditioning Specialist. He specializes in strength, power training, and teaching fundamental movements to individuals and athlete’s to reduce injury.

5 Ways to Help with Mental Health on and off Campus

Bell let's Talk graphic

January 29 is Bell Let’s Talk Day, a day dedicated to increasing awareness and conversation about mental health.

So what can you do? Here are five ways to end the stigma and start a conversation.

  • Language Matters
  • Educate yourself
  • Be kind
  • Listen and ask
  • Talk about it

You can also help raise awareness by sharing on your social media channels. Bell will donate 5¢ for every applicable text, call, tweet, social media video view, and use of the Bell Let’s Talk Facebook frame or Snapchat filter. Make sure you use #BellLetsTalk. Check out the the Bell Let’s Talk Website for more information, or you can get involved right here on campus.

Several MacEwan University departments are supporting this cause and hosting events throughout campus leading up to and on Bell Let’s Talk Day. Here are some of the ways you can get involved:

  1. Make Some Noise for Mental Health (Jan 18) – The Men’s hockey team will face off against Concordia in their annual Make Some Noise Game. This game will focus on raising awareness around mental health. Puck drop at the Downtown Arena is at 7 p.m. Pick up your FREE ticket at Sport and Wellness, Residence, or any table display.
  2. Table Displays (Jan 22 -29) – Located throughout campus, these tables will engage students, staff, and the general public regarding mental health awareness and the Bell Let’s Talk campaign. There will be FREE Griffins tickets, mental health resources, wellness activities, Bell Let’s Talk Toques, and other prizing. Stop by and say hi.
  3. Bell Let’s Talk Word Bubbles (Jan 22-29) – Fill out a word bubble with your own personalized positive message about mental health. Word bubble are available throughout campus and will be posted on the pedway glass walls in Building 8. Let’s try to completely cover the pedway with positivity!
  4. Bell Let’s Talk Griffins Game (Jan 24) – Join the Griffins Basketball teams as they play in their annual Bell Let’s Talk Game. The game is part of a USport initiative to help raise awareness for mental health. Griffins will play UBC in the David Atkinson gymnasium starting at 6 p.m., with the men’s game to follow. Pick up your FREE ticket at any table display, Sport and Wellness, or in Residence.
  5. Write, Text, Tweet, Hashtag! (Jan 29) – on Bell Let’s Talk Day, join the conversation. Let’s raise awareness about mental health by writing messages on our Bell Let’s Talk banner (Building 8), texting, tweeting, calling, and using the social media filters. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #BellLetsTalk for all your social media posts!

Join the conversation, and remember to be kind, listen, ask, and talk about it. Together, we can end the stigma around Mental Health.

by Taryn Taylor

Backstroke Pull

To fully develop an efficient back crawl, arm movements play a big role, and can help a swimmer move farther, faster, and more efficiently through the water.

Backstroke uses a backwards arm motion to help propel the swimmer. Arms should remain opposite each other, where one arm will be extended above your head while the other is by your side. As your lower arm exits the water, your thumb should exit the water first, and your hand will rotate in the air so that your little finger enters the water first.

As you pull your hands back to your sides, the elbow is bent, with your fingers pointed toward the side wall of the pool. Your elbow straightens near the end of the push. The hand finishes with a vigorous push of the water, and breaks the surface of the water with the thumb emerging first.

It may be helpful to practice a one arm stroke so that you can concentrate on the feel of the water against your hand as you master this arm movement. You may use an assist such as a lifejacket, water jogging belt or pull buoy to allow you to maintain buoyancy while you concentrate on just the arm pattern.

Check out Backstroke Kick

A common mistake is reaching too far above your head for hand entry. Ideally your hand should enter the water directly above the shoulder. A cue that you are overreaching is if your hips are snaking through the water.

By Jason Britton and Alex Lee

Jason is a full-time Lifeguard/Instructor here at MacEwan University Sport and Wellness. He has over 19 years of aquatic and coaching experience and is one of the main organizers of  SwimRun Edmonton.

Alex is a certified Swim for Life and Lifesaving Instructor with the Lifesaving Society. He is a Junior Griffins Aquatic Camp Counselor and has developed the water safety education programming used in the Jr. Griffins Aquatics Camps.

Get Involved with Sport Clubs

As you start to get settled into university life, you may find you’re missing something. You have your syllabuses in order, courses sorted, classroom locations scoped out, and when the coffee lines are the shortest, but are you involved and a feel a part of the school spirit?

A huge part of the university experience, and the thing you’ll reminisce about your university time, is what you did outside the classroom. If sport has always been part of your life or something you always wanted to be involved with, try joining or starting a Sport Club at MacEwan to help fill that void.

Sport and Wellness currently has Badminton, Barbell, Cheer, Climbing, Outdoors, Scuba, Swim, Lacrosse, Ultimate, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu clubs either running, in the approval process or seeking new leadership, and we’re always seeking students to start and lead new sport clubs.

If being involved isn’t enough of a motivation for you, there are many benefits to joining a university sport club.

  • Make new friends. You’ll be joining a group of people who have similar values and interests as you and will help broaden your network.
  • Keep healthy. Besides the obvious benefits of exercise- being active helps you reduce stress, relax and can boost your confidence in and out of the classroom.
  • Try something new. Maybe you never tried weightlifting, cheer or climbing, and always wanted to, what better way to do it in an environment of peers.
  • Improve your employability. Take on a leadership role in sport club can help your organizing, planning and communication skills, giving you unique experiences to put on your resume for when you graduate.
  • Have fun. Sport clubs just give you another opportunity to bring joy to your everyday life.

If you’re a MacEwan student or a Sport and Wellness member, you have everything you need to join a club or start your own. Visit our Sport Club website for more details.

Glute-Ham Raises

Glute-Ham-Raises are the fourth and final exercise in our hamstring and Low-Back health series. The hamstrings group is responsible for multiple muscle actions in the lower body namely knee flexion and hip extension. Glute-Ham-Raises builds off of the last exercise in our series, Nordic Curls, by adding hip extension to the movement which allows both of the previously mentioned muscle actions to be utilized. At the bottom of the movement, the knee is fully extended and hip is flexed, putting the muscles in their weakest position and allowing the following contraction to be as challenging as possible.

Objective

  • Strengthen both the Hamstrings and Calf by using loaded lengthening contractions through a full range of motion

Muscle Groups Targeted

  • Spinal erectors, hip extensors, knee flexors, calves

Starting Position

  • Start kneeling with toes pulled into shins and anchored in a glute-ham-raise machine

Movement

  • Stay as straight as possible from knees to shoulders and slowly lower yourself until you are parallel with the ground in as straight a position as possible
  • Once parallel with the ground, flex your trunk forward so that your head is as close to the ground as possible
  • Immediately Pull yourself back into starting position as fast as possible while doing the same movement steps in reverse

Recommended sets and repetitions

  • Three sets of 3-5 reps if new to the exercise
  • Progress movement with greater range of movement until trunk can reach a level parallel with the ground, once this is reached, increases in repetitions are more appropriate

Check out Nordic Curls

by Devin Clayton

Devin is a Bachelors of Physical Education graduate from the University of Alberta. He is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA and is a NCCP certified Weightlifting coach.

Backstroke Kick

After developing a streamlined body position, kicking is the second step to build a swim stroke. Kicking provides propulsion and balance support and is critical during arm recovery in back crawl. Swimmers need to know how to float and glide in a streamlined body position before attempting kick drills for swimming strokes.

For a back crawl the kick used is the flutter kick. Your flutter kick should be generated from your hip, with a straight but relaxed knee, a relaxed ankle, and pointed toes. Toes should pass each other very closely on each kick with consistent rhythmic flow. The most common mistake with the flutter kick is to generate your kick from your knees. Feet should be coming right to the surface of the water. If you find that your feet or calves cramp frequently when you swim, you may be pointing your toes too hard. Try relaxing your ankle and foot.

Check out Backstroke Body Position Swim Tip

Practice maintaining relaxed breathing while kicking. Make sure that you are not holding your breath as you practice your kick.

By Jason Britton and Alex Lee

Jason is a full-time Lifeguard/Instructor here at MacEwan University Sport and Wellness. He has over 19 years of aquatic and coaching experience and is one of the main organizers of SwimRun Edmonton.

Alex is a certified Swim for Life and Lifesaving Instructor with the Lifesaving Society. He is a Junior Griffins Aquatic Camp Counselor and has developed the water safety education programming used in the Jr. Griffins Aquatics Camps.

 

Nordic Curls

Nordic Curls are the third exercise in our four-part series on hamstring and low back health. Nordic Curls vary from the previous exercises in that the knee is where the rotation of the person and therefore resistance is located. As a result, this movement tends to place more emphasis on the hamstring muscles that are more concentrated at the knee while still placing demand on the postural muscles of the back.   

Objective

  • Strengthen the part of the hamstrings and calf closest to the knee by using loaded lengthening contractions through a full range of motion

Muscle Groups Targeted 

  • Spinal erectors, hip extensors, knee flexors, calves

Starting Position

  • Start kneeling with toes pulled into shins and anchored on the floor or in a glute-ham-raise machine

Movement

  • Stay as straight as possible from knees to shoulders and slowly lower yourself into as low a position as possible while maintaining posture
  • Pull yourself back into starting position

Recommended sets and repetitions 

  • Three sets of 3-5 reps if new to the exercise
  • Progress movement with greater range of movement until trunk can reach a level parallel with the ground, once this is reached, increases in repetitions are more appropriate

Check out Snatch Grip Romanian Deadlifts

by Devin Clayton

Devin is a Bachelors of Physical Education graduate from the University of Alberta. He is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA and is a NCCP certified Weightlifting coach.

Backstroke Body Position

Body position is the foundation for all swimming strokes. When correcting strokes, look at the body position because it affects all the other components of a stroke (legs, breathing, arms, and coordination). In order for a stroke to be efficient, the body must minimize the amount of drag (The water resistance that slows down your motion) by being streamlined. Being streamlined reduces the work put in to move through the water and is key to swimming efficiently.

Efficient swimmers use less effort, can swim farther, and faster because they understand the concept of streamlining. A tip for streamlining can be to try “swimming skinny” and push less water. The following body position needed for a backstroke will describe how the body should be streamlined while swimming. 

In a back layout position, the body lies on the back with the arms beside the body and the hips are at the surface of the water, producing a flat body position. The legs are together. Practice pushing off the wall and maintaining this back layout position in a relaxed manner.

Check out previous Swim Tips

By Jason Britton and Alex Lee

Jason is a full-time Lifeguard/Instructor here at MacEwan University Sport and Wellness. He has over 19 years of aquatic and coaching experience and is one of the main organizers of  SwimRun Edmonton.

Alex is a certified Swim for Life and Lifesaving Instructor with the Lifesaving Society. He is a Junior Griffins Aquatic Camp Counselor and has developed the water safety education programming used in the Jr. Griffins Aquatics Camps.

Snatch Grip Romanian Deadlift

Following Good Mornings, our second exercise in our hamstring series is called the Snatch Grip Romanian Deadlift. This exercise is a common progression from Good Mornings as it relies on maintaining upper body posture to rotate the pelvis and subsequently stretch the hamstrings at the knee. Give it a try in your new fitness program!

Objective

  • Strengthen the hamstrings by using loaded lengthening contractions through a full range of motion

Muscle Groups Targeted 

  • Spinal Erectors, Hip extensors, Knee Flexors, Shoulder Extensors

Starting Position

  • Stand with Snatch Grip (widen hands out until bar sits in hip crease when arms are straight
  • Inflate Chest, Bring Shoulders back, Turns Elbows out to sides, “un-lock” knees

Movement

  • Keeping shins vertical, hinge at the hip until bar reaches bottom of knee with flat back and shoulders in front of the bar, 
  • Pause in this position and return to start position in reverse order

Recommended sets and repetitions 

  • 3 sets of 5-8 reps with light-moderate load
  • Progress movement with greater range of movement until trunk can reach a level parallel with the ground, once this is reached, increases in weight are more appropriate

Check out Good Mornings

by Devin Clayton

Devin is a Bachelors of Physical Education graduate from the University of Alberta. He is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA and is a NCCP certified Weightlifting coach.