is a series of exercises for swimmers to address common muscle
imbalances that occur
because of the repetitive nature of their sport. To go to "Stretching Exercises for
I treat a lot of swimmers with the local aquatics club. The level of competition is fierce. They swim 6 days a week, often more than once a day with only 2 weeks off per year. With these high level swimmers occasionally exceeding 20,000 meters per day in training, overuse injuries frequently occur.
should exercises for swimming include stretching
Dangers of swimmers stretching
Medical information about stretches for swimmers
Stretching Exercises for Swimmers
Ways to improve your swimming
Common Swimming Ailments
Why you should swim
Lane etiquette for swimmers
Good flexibility allows a swimmer to perform better for the following reasons:
Flexibility exercises for swimmers should concentrate on stretching the connective
tissues of the muscles, but not the tendons and ligaments. Sprains and
tears can result from ligaments and joint capsular structures being
stretched beyond their normal extensibility.
Swimmers should only stretch to the point where resistance is felt. Stretching exercises for swimmers that should be avoided are those assisted by a team mate that stretch arms up and forward from behind the back, and those stretches that force the shoulders back at shoulder level. Both of these stretches force the head of the humerus (long arm bone) forward against the tendons and ligaments that become chronically inflamed in swimmers when they develop tendonitis. It is therefore best to avoid stretching exercises for swimmers that would exacerbate that condition.
Other exercises for swimmers that involve dangerous stretching are stretches to the knees and hips. Although flexibility in these joints is definitely an advantage in breaststroke, the potential for long term harm is too great for me to recommend them.
take up swimming or aquafit classes. Movement in the pool is
excellent for aiding recovery.
The bouyancy of the water relieves pressure on joints that are normally
weight bearing and adversely affected by high impact exercises.
When one is immersed to waist level your weight is
by half. When immersed to the chest this is reduced to 25%. When
immersed to the neck, you effectively weigh 10% of what you weigh on
land. This makes swimming the ideal exercise for those suffering from
arthritis, obesity, or fibromyalgia.
The sensation of weightlessness, the rhythm of the stroke and the sensation of the water can be almost meditative and relaxing. It is a great way to deal with stress.
The increased humidity in the air above the water aids those that suffer from exercise induced asthma. A study by the NSW Asthma Foundation found that of 73 children that entered a swimming program, half of them were able to reduce the type or amount of medication they required.
Swimming's a good method of recovery after long training sessions. Swimming can be a light activity to promote recovery and stimulate blood circulation.
Swimming encourages flexibility. Exercises such as running and bicycling compress the spine; whereas, swimming encourages you to lengthen the body.
Prior to taking up swimming you should consult your family doctor. Conditions such as epilepsy other others that may cause fainting or dizziness should be discussed with your family physician. Otherwise, swimming is an excellent activity for those that have difficulty with land based or high impact exercises. Buoyancy of the water relieves pressure on joints and the humidity of the air aids those that suffer from exercise induced asthma.
There are swimming exercises you can do to help your technique, but it
is difficult to do this on your own. A swimming instructor can give you
feedback and one on one advice.
If you are consistently performing well during training but it's not carrying over into better times at swim meets you may be looking at a psychological barrier. You may be holding back to protect your ego. At the end of a race you should be able to say you gave it your all and realize that winning at the swim meet shouldn't determine whether or not you feel bad, but rather about swimming your hardest and knowing you did your best.
Some psychological tips are as follows:
When swimming in a public pool there are often rules that assist in the free flow of swimmers. Pools will often have lanes dedicated to faster swimmers and directions posted. If you are swimming and catch up to the swimmer in front of you allow them to pull aside and let you pass.
Shoulder stretching is well documented in the literature as a method to improve performance and prevent injury in swimming. As such swim coaches and the swimmers devote a lot of time to stretching.
drills during a few of your lengths will help improve your stroke. For
instance, using a flutter board to work on kicking.
By improving your stroke you will improve your swimming efficiency. You will be able to swim the same distance with few strokes and in a shorter period of time.
a few lengths
at a slow
pace to allow your muscles to get used to the movement and warm them
up. This will help prevent injuries. Studies have shown that an active
warm up (as opposed to sitting in a warm room for a warm up) will
improve your times more than a passive warm up for your first swim
event. An active warm up brings oxygen and nutrients to the muscles and
improves nerve conduction.
A period of active recovery has been shown to result in better performance in subsequent events. Studies have found that swimming after your meet at a pace equal to your lactate threshold is better than swimming around lazily and better than just sitting. You can determine your lactate threshold roughly by estimating how fast you think you could swim comfortably for an hour. Stretching during a warm down also helps the muscles relax before the next race.
by training in sets. Swim a given number of lengths and then take a 30
second break. Increase your stamina by gradually increasing the number
of lengths in each set.
By using a variety of different strokes you will use more muscle groups and minimize the repetitive stresses on the rotator cuff.
While most people are very keen to begin a new exercise program, like
any new activity it is best to start slowly. You can set
for the distance you would like to achieve, or the time you would like
to swim a given distance. In the beginning it may be realistic to set
the goal of just getting to the pool twice a week.
Correct stretching is only one part of preventing and treating injuries in a swimmer.
The purpose of stretching prior to a swim is to obtain full range in the joints. Muscle may become tight between swim workouts and it is important to ensure you have full range prior to any swimming. Even small restrictions in a joint can lead to injury while swimming due to the repetitive nature of the activity. Stretching after the swimming workout is of course also important to increase flexibility.
Stretching Exercises for Swimmers: Posterior Shoulder Stretch
Stretching Exercises for Swimmers: Tricep Stretch
Stretching Exercises for Swimmers: Mid Pectoralis Muscle Stretch
Stretching Exercises for Swimmers: Lower Pectoralis Muscle Stretch
Stretching Exercises for Swimmers: Latissimus Dorsi Stretch
Stretching Exercises for Swimmers: Upper Pec and Anterior Deltoid Stretch
Stretching Exercises for Swimmers: Quadricep Stretch
Hamstring Stretch in Standing
Repeat both of the above on the left side.
Hip Flexors Stretch
Long Hip Adductors
Short Hip Adductors