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Keeping Your Swimming Body Flexible and Injury-Free

Are you a swimmer looking to enhance your performance and prevent injuries? Stretching is an important component of any swimmer's routine. By incorporating targeted stretches into your workout regimen, you can address tight shoulders, lats, and hips, which are common problem areas for swimmers. In this guide, we will walk you through a series of swimming stretches that will help improve your flexibility, prevent injuries, and optimize your swimming technique.

Women swimmers stretching before exercise

The Importance of Stretching for Injury-free Swimming

Swimming is a physically demanding sport that engages almost every muscle in your body. To prevent injuries and enhance your performance, it is important to incorporate stretching exercises into your routine. Stretching helps improve flexibility, increases range of motion, and promotes better muscle coordination. By stretching regularly, you can address tightness in key areas such as the shoulders, lats, and hips.

Stretching Techniques for Arms and Shoulders

Elbow Pull for Your Arm Pit

One area that swimmers need to pay special attention to is the armpit, which houses several important muscles used in all four swimming strokes. To stretch this area effectively, follow these steps:

  1. Place your right hand behind your head, with your elbow pointing upward and palm facing toward back of shoulder.

  2. Use your left hand to grasp your right elbow and gently pull it inward while contracting the right biceps, trapezius and anterior deltoid muscles.

  3. Hold this position for 2 seconds, repeat 10 times, then switch arms and repeat.

Wall Press for Your Front Shoulder

Stretching the front of your shoulder can be challenging, but the wall press is an effective technique to target those hard-to-reach muscles. Here's how to perform the wall press:

  1. Stand facing a wall with your right hand at shoulder height, palm flat against the wall.

  2. Keep your arm straight while contracting the posterior shoulder muscles..

  3. Twist your body to the left, away from the wall.

  4. Hold this position for 2 seconds, performing 10 repetitions, then switch arms and repeat.

Stretching Techniques for Legs and Buttocks

Stretch for Anterior Shin and for Your Calves

After intense kicking sets, your calves can become tight and fatigued. These stretches are an excellent way to relieve tension in this area. Follow these steps:

  1. Seated, Place your thumbs on top of the foot and fingers on the ball of the foot.

  2. Plantar flex (point the foot away from the body) by contracting the muscles on the bottom of the foot and back of lower leg. 

  3. Hold the stretch for 2 seconds.  

  4. Now, dorsiflex (lift the foot and toes back up toward the body) by contracting the muscles on the front of the shin.  With the fingers on the ball of the foot, provide gentle assisting stretch of the soleus.  

  5. Hold this stretch for 2 seconds, then repeat the anterior and posterior leg stretches 10 times..

Pretzel Stretch for Your Buttocks

The buttocks play a significant role in swimming, especially during kicking and turns. To stretch your buttocks effectively, try the pretzel stretch:

  1. Sit on the ground with your right leg bent and the sole of your foot flat on the floor.

  2. Move your left leg across the midline and rotate the same leg to an inward extreme.  

  3. Contract the hip flexors, abdominals, medial hip rotators and hip adductors as you gently move the exercising leg towards the opposite side using both hands to assist.

  4. Hold this position for 2 seconds, perform 10 times then switch legs and repeat.

Butterfly Stretch for Your Inner Thighs & Groin

Inner thigh and groin injuries are not uncommon in swimming, particularly in breaststroke. To prevent such injuries, it's essential to stretch these muscles properly. Here's how to perform the butterfly stretch:

  1. Sit up tall on the floor.

  2. Bend your knees and bring the soles of your feet together.

  3. Hold your feet together and pull the knees downward by contracting outside of hip.  Assists in moving the knees toward the floor with the forearms..

  4. Maintain this position for 2 seconds, perform 10 times.

Stretching Techniques for Your Back

Model Pose for Your Laterals (Seated Trunk Rotation)

Swimmers frequently engage their laterals during practice, leading to overworked muscles in this area. The model pose is an effective stretch to relieve tension in your laterals:

  1. Sit on the floor with your left leg bent and your left foot flat on the ground.

  2. Straighten your right leg and cross your left foot over it.

  3. Rotate your torso by contracting the internal obliques, external obliques, rectus abdominus, transverse abdominus, serratus anterior, internal and external intercostals.  Do this by pressing your right elbow against the outside of your left leg and turning to the left.

  4. Hold this position for 2 seconds, perform 10 times, then switch sides and repeat.

Child's Pose for Your Lower Back & Hips

After an intense swimming session, your lower back and hips can feel sore and tight. The child's pose is a fantastic stretch to release tension in these areas:

  1. Kneel down with your shins touching the floor.

  2. Bring your thighs together and rest them on your calves.

  3. Lean forward, placing your belly on your thighs.

  4. Stretch your arms forward ant to the left with your palms facing downward.

  5. Maintain this active position for 2 seconds, then reach to the right.  Repeat this 10 times alternating right and left.

The Importance of Post-Workout Stretching

While many swimmers stretch before their workouts, it is equally important to stretch afterward. Post-workout stretching helps your muscles recover and prepares your body for the next training session. By taking a few minutes to stretch after swimming, you can loosen up tight muscles, reduce soreness, and promote optimal muscle repair.

Keep stretching

Incorporating stretching exercises into your swimming routine is essential for maintaining flexibility, preventing injuries, and improving overall performance. By focusing on key areas such as the arms, shoulders, legs, buttocks, and back, you can address muscle tightness and imbalances specific to swimming. Remember to stretch both before and after your workouts for injury-free Swimming

For personalized stretching plans tailored to your needs, consider reaching out to

. Keep stretching, stay injury-free, and enjoy the benefits of a flexible and strong body in the water!

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