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Why do swimmers slap their bodies before beginning a race

by ZwemZa on July 11th, 2021

Michael Phelps going about his routine (Source: Buzzfeed)

Amongst the many peculiar pre-event routines in sport, swimming too has its fair share of certain trends that are noticeable amongst all swimmers. One of them is the ‘self hitting’ or body slapping that goes on prior to entering the pool. It might seem a strange sight for many considering there are a million warm-up routines people can follow before any physical activity, but body slapping has its benefits for swimmers in many ways.
The main aim before swimming is to ensure the body is properly warmed up. Muscle pulls and cramps cannot afford to take place during a race as this can cost the swimmer or his relay team as well. Body slapping helps wake the muscles up and the immediate blood flow rush that is caused due to body slapping helps stimulate muscles into activity. This ensures that there is some reception to the event that is about to take place as the body will not be caught off guard.
The main areas that swimmers targets are the back, thighs and arms and the way they go about body slapping may differ based on a swimmer to swimmer. Michael Phelps would hit his muscles hard and had a set routine before every event while a lot many others choose to slowly grind their muscles based on what they have been recommended. The routine nonetheless is still crucial and is proven to be beneficial for swimmers in the short and long run given that muscle pulls can also cause long term injuries.
The entire warm-up routine might seem funny but those who have never observed it before should definitely keep a lookout for it at this years Tokyo Olympics.

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