Take Home Points on Screen Time Impairing Swimming Performance:
- Screen time is negatively associated with isometric core strength.
- Screen time decreases arterial mobility.
Whether it is at a computer, television, tablet, or phone, screen time has increased dramatically over the past decades. The average American teenager spends nearly 7.5 hours in front of a screen (Kaiser 2010) [and I’m sure figures are even more now]. Now, a whole book could analysis the negative health effects of excessive screen time and sitting, but this post will concentrate on a few ramifications for the sport of swimming.
Few would argue core stability and strength are important for swimming speed. Now, obtaining core stability is another massive topic and more research is necessary for correlating core stability in the different planes of motion with various swimming strokes and distances, but there appears to be a positive correlation with isometric trunk flexion and swimming velocity (Magnusson 1995). Unfortunately, isometric trunk flexion is inversely related to screen viewing time (Grøntved 2013).
Putting these two items together suggests screen time negatively influences core flexion strength and swimming speed.
Another issue with extended screen time is the extended period of time in one position. This problematic position undoubtedly results in poor posture (Science of Performance: How a Curved Spine), as well as increasing arterial stiffness (van de Laar 2013). Impaired arterial stiffness likely prevents proper range of motion from being achieved, as well as hindering cardiovascular circulation. Luckily, arterial stiffness is improved with SMR, which is discussed in detail in Mobility for Swimmers (Okamoto 2013).
Clearly, an increase in screen time is damaging to the health and success of swimmers and only a few of the downfalls were presented in this piece. Unfortunately, many agree this is an issue, but seldom attempt to set an example for improvement. Whether you are a parent or a swim coach, practice decreased screen times and set the example you wish to instill in these kids. Next, fill these periods with positive effects, learning experiences, parental bonding, etc.
- Magnusson SP, Constantini NW, McHugh MP, Gleim GW. Strength profiles and performance in Masters’ level swimmers. Am J Sports Med. 1995 Sep-Oct;23(5):626-31.
- van de Laar RJ, Stehouwer CD, Prins MH, van Mechelen W, Twisk JW, Ferreira I. Self-reported time spent watching television is associated with arterial stiffness in young adults: the Amsterdam Growth and Health Longitudinal Study. Br J Sports Med. 2013 Oct 7. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2013-092555. [Epub ahead of print]
- Okamoto T, Masuhara M, Ikuta K. Acute Effects of Self-Myofascial Release Using a Foam Roller on Arterial Function. J Strength Cond Res. 2013 Apr 9. [Epub ahead of print]
- Grøntved A, Ried-Larsen M, Froberg K, Wedderkopp N, Brage S, Kristensen PL, Andersen LB, Møller NC.Screen time viewing behaviors and isometric trunk muscle strength in youth. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2013 Oct;45(10):1975-80. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e318295af56.
Dr. John Mullen
DOCTOR OF PHYSICAL THERAPY, STRENGTH COACH, PERFORMANCE CONSULTANT
Dr. John Mullen, DPT, CSCS is a World renowned expert and speaker in sports training and rehabilitation. He received his Doctorate in Physical Therapy at USC, as well as the Josette Antonelli Division Service Scholarship, Order of the Golden Cane, and the Order of Areté. At USC, he also performed research on strength training and rehabilitation. Dr. John has worked with multiple professional and Olympic athletes, helping them earn Olympic medals.
His dedication to research and individualization spurred him to open COR in 2011. Since 2011, Dr. John has been featured in Gizmodo, Motherboard, Stack Magazine, and much more.
He has worked with the numerous colleges and teams regarding rehab and performance. Before his Doctoral program, Dr. John swam on an athletic scholarship at Purdue University.
At Purdue, Dr. John was an Academic Honorable Mention All-American and was awarded the Red Mackey Award and R. O. Papenguh Award. He also won the Purdue Undergraduate business plan and elevator pitch competition, as well as 1st prize with the Indiana Soy Bean Alliance.
Dr. John was born in Centerville, Ohio and was a 24-time high school All-American Swimmer. Dr. John is still a swimmer and holds a Masters Swimming World and Pacific Swimming Record.