How fit divers have to be is often a topic of debate. One thing that experts do agree on is that a “reasonable” level of fitness is required. All divers should maintain general fitness but these exercises specifically relate to diving because divers use different muscle groups to those used in other sports.
Here are 6 exercises you can easily incorporate into your regular exercise routines and that you can do at home or even at your desk. Remember to always stretch before and after any exercise and while you want to push yourself, don’t overdo it!
- Unless you’re a ballet dancer it is unlikely that your weekly workout includes an hour or so on your toes. When you are finning this is basically what you are doing – pointing your toes and extending the muscles in your feet. That’s why so many divers get foot cramps no matter how fit they are. To keep these muscles fit for diving try laying on your back and pointing your toes, stretching your calf and foot muscles as taut as possible. Hold for one minute and release. Repeat three times with a 60 second break in between. You can incorporate this into your regular exercise warm up or adapt it by stretching out your legs and pointing your toes in your office chair. It’s also a great exercise to do on flights.
- Another way to work out your foot muscles is the “monkey grab”. Place a pen on the floor and position your foot above it. Try to pick up the pen in your toes and hold it for 30 seconds. Repeat with the other foot (if you cannot curl your toes around a pen try a soft fabric item like a balled up handkerchief).
- Posture and back strength play an important role for divers. If you have weak core muscles the easiest way to walk with a tank on your back is hunched over (like a turtle) which will cause back, neck and shoulder pain. Strengthen your core muscles by employing some simple back extension exercises – which can even be done in bed! Lay face down with your arms bent and your hands / fingers interlocked underneath your forehead. Lift your head, shoulders and torso off the floor (or bed) as much as you can whilst keeping your hands on the floor, aim to feel a stretching sensation and hold it for 5 seconds. Relax and repeat.
- Wall squats to strengthen your thighs –standwith your back against flat against a wall and lower yourself down by bending your knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor and your knee is bent 90 degrees – hold for as long as is comfortable. Strong thighs make climbing boat ladders easier!
- Calf raises to strengthen your calves. Standing with your legs shoulder-width apart, lift your heels slowly off the ground so you are on the balls of your feet and then slowly lower your heels back down so they just make contact with the floor. Repeat the exercise until your calves feel tired. If you do this 2 or 3 times a week you’ll start to be able to do it for longer. Strengthening your calves means more effective finning and you won’t tire so quickly. It will also help to reduce the likelihood of cramp in your calves.
- Improve general core strength and prevent back problems by always engaging your core muscles every time you pick up any object of weight, bend with your knees and not with your back. This also extends to the way you sit at your desk. Sitting up straight will improve your core muscles instead of scrunching them up.
Ready for your next dive? Speak with your local PADI Dive Shop today.