By Sporty Afros
Although, most of you all know Sporty Afros by the nutrition post, we also have a variety of information for the girl who wants to work out or is currently working out but doesn't know what to do with their hair. We are two triathletes who started Sporty Afros and are dedicated to solving the "I can't work out because of my hair" excuses. Oh and if you didn't know, triathletes means we swim, bike and run. Ha! Yes! We do it all. :-) Since it is summer time and so many questions are surrounding swimming and black hair, I figured I would pass along our information, video and tips on everything you need regarding swimming and taking care of your hair. We have even included some great swimming workouts.      

Swim Caps

Before you hit the pool, you must learn about the basics types of swim caps. Latex Swim Caps As you can imagine, a Latex cap is like a pair of latex gloves. They are inexpensive and come in a variety of colors and designs. I purchase these for a $1 or less at D&J sports swim store. Warning, they tear very easy!   Latex swim caps are designed to keep the most water out of your hair. They dry very quickly. It’s not recommended to leave in extreme heat (sauna room or your car) as they can melt. Note: Latex caps can cause major damage to your hairline if used by itself. Silicone Swim Caps The inside is of a silicone swim cap is very soft and rubbery. These caps include a built in anti-slip edge that keeps the cap in place while you swim.  They outlast latex caps because of their thickness and  they do not tear easy. They are also much easier to put on than latex swim caps and are not as harsh on your hairline. Note: For extremely long and/or thicker hair, silicone caps can easily slide off if too much hair product is applied on to the hair. Lyrca Swim Caps Lyrcra caps are often overlooked. Lyrca swimming caps do not protect the hair from water. The cap protects hair from tangling, harsh UV rays, large dirt participles and server as a base under other swim caps such as Latex.  Lyrcra caps are typically the gentlest on the hairline in comparison to the other caps. Think of a Lyrca swim cap as a wig cap. I like to use this cap underneath my latex swim cap in order to hold my hair down. There are other specialty swim caps such as Neoprene and long hair swim caps. Yes, there are swim caps for those who have thick and long locs!

Swimming and Protecting Your Hair

If you are swimming for recreation here are some tips for you:
  1. It’s great to have a protective style for the pool. As a quick measure, always spray your hair with a moisturizing spray like Sporty Afros G+ Spray or add conditioner to your hair before you hit the water.
  2. I do not recommend micobraids. Sorry ladies, but the weight of the water on your braids is a no-no. This results in damaged hairlines in a heartbeat if you are not careful.  Box braids and twists are much more forgiving and easier on the hair if braided/twisted properly.
  3. If you have a sew-in, simply pull your hair back after you get out of the water. You can throw on a cute headband, summer scarf or hat until you’re able to wash the choline out of your hair.
  4. Always rinse your hair after leaving the pool!
If you are swimming for exercise here are some tips for you:
  1. Wear a swim cap. – This is a must. Choose which swim cap works best for you.
  2. Pre-condition your hair. – Adding conditioner before you hit the pool helps protect your hair from chlorine damage. You can use any cheap conditioner you want. The chlorine will strip the conditioner from your hair as opposed to stripping your hair.
  3. Always wash/rinse and condition your hair after you get out of the pool. If you’re in the pool every day, then its okay to wash and or rinse your hair daily as long as you keep it moisturized.
Sporty Afros’ Swimming Haircare Routine Check out swimming haircare routine! [youtube]   Alex’s Swimming Haircare Routine Before swimming:
  • I spray my hair with Sporty Afros G+ Spray and then add in some leave-in conditioner. My current leave-in conditioner for pre-swimming is Garnier pure clean or anything on sale by the line.
  • I normally wear two swim caps. First, I put on a Lyrca swim cap (it’s like a stretchy doo-rag), then I put on a spandex swim cap.
  • Note: If I am going for a longer swim (30+ mins) I will add a deep conditioner and my G+ Moisturizing Spray hours before I hit the pool to prevent chlorine damage and drying.
  1. If time permits, I do a hot oil treatment.
  2. I wash my hair with Amazing Botanicals Black Soap Shampoo mixed in with Malibu Swimmers Shampoo
  3. Add a deep conditioner to my hair. Soft n Free Intensive Hair Therapy and Beautiful Textures Deep conditioners are some of my recent favorites.
  4. I often leave the deep conditioner on and finish my workout or errands. I am known to throw my favorite running hat on. J
At Home or At Gym (If Time Permits)
  1. After rinsing the deep conditioner, I apply  Whitney’s Shealoe Butter Mousse Recipe or Cantu Leave in conditioner
  2. I seal in my ends with Sporty Afros’ Ayurvedic oil and put my hair in 4 to 6 big twist or braids.
During triathlon training season, when I am in the pool 3-4 times a week, I do a monthly protein treatment and a weekly Ayurvedic deep conditioner treatment. You can also check out my swimming essentials post for more details and specifics. Whitney’s swimming hair care routine here. I wet my hair before getting in the pool. Then I my leave in conditioner  mix (below)  to prevent the chemicals from the chlorine from penetrating my hair. Then I put on my swim cap. After my swim, I use  Swimmer’s Normalizing Shampoo from Aubrey Organics. Then, I apply my leave in conditioner concoction. Here’s what’s in it: Whitney’s Post Swim Leave-in Conditioner
  • ½ bottle of Kinky Curly, Knot Today Conditioner
  • *I usually measure by what type of bottle I put it in*
  • Fill the remaining ¼ bottle with Aloe Vera Gel
  • And the last ¼ bottle with  Sporty Afros Ayurvedic Oil
I use  two big squirts and work it through my hair and style as usual. Disclaimer: This is what works specifically for my hair, but it may not work for everyone. So use the products that you have and customize it to work for you.

Swim Workout

Now that you know what to do with your hair, here are some basic workouts and rules for you! Warming Up: When you get to the pool deck and get situated (kickboard, water bottle and gear laid out), do a few quick arm rotations and dry land swimming drills. Even some elastic bands can help get your upper body prepped and ready for your swim workout. You wouldn’t think of going for a hard run without a warm-up and dynamic stretch, so why should swimming be any different? Personally, I like to do about 10 shoulder shrugs and some imitation swimming with my arms to warm-up my upper body. Then, to get my lower body geared up for the swim, I’ll do 10 knee bends and flex, stretch and loosen my ankles while wearing an ankle brace. Then I’m sufficiently warmed up and ready to swim. Your workout should start out with some type of in water warm-up that is easy. Some examples are:
  • 200 swim, 200 kick, 200 pull, 200 swim
  • 400-500 swim
  • 2-4 x 150 free / 50 no-free
  • 2-4 x 400s (150 free, 50 non-free – repeated twice)
  • 400 swim, 300 pull, 200 kick, 100 drill choice
  Drilling It: After you have done a thorough warm-up and ingested some fluids, it is time to move on quickly to a drill set to get your arms moving and heart rate up. A drill set will be a bit faster than your warm-up, but not as “hard” as your main set. The primary goal is to focus on good swim technique before fatigue sets in. I like to give my athletes pretty standard drill sets by only changing up the number of repeats or distance in the set. The drill set rest/recovery period should be no longer than 15 seconds. Here are a few examples of a drill set:
  • 4-10 x 75s with 15 sec rest (kick, drill, swim by 25)  (could also be Pull, kick, swim or Drill Swim, Drill, etc.)
  • 3 x (100 pull, 50 swim)
  • 2 – 4 x 150s (25 drill, 50 swim)
Main Set: After your drill set is complete, a quick one minute break is all you need to determine your main set, the goal of your workout. Your swim workout goal can be broken into three types: Speed/Sprinting/ Lactate Threshold sets, Technique/Strength sets and Distance/Endurance sets. Each workout should focus on one of these three goal types which will determine your main set; however the exception to the rule is when you might combine them. Below are some examples of how to structure your main set: Speed Day:
  • 3 x (100 swim hard, 50 easy)
  • 10 x 100s @ lactate threshold effort
  • 2 x (5 x 100s fast @ descending effort, 100 easy)
Distance Day:
  • 4 x 300s @ moderate effort w/ :20seconds rest
  • 6 x 200s
  • Odds: max distance per stroke – focus on good technique
  • Evens: moderate effort
  • 4 x 400s
Cool Down!

Well folks, that is it! You have the basics for how to take care of your hair, various workouts and fitness tips all rolled into one post. Make sure after working out you get a glass of low fat milk, coconut water, 10 almonds or a banana for a great post-workout recovery snack. Let us know if you have any questions!

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