What Stretches are Good for Swimming?

What are the most common injuries caused from swimming?

  • Swimmer's Shoulder
  • Swimmer's Knee
  • Neck Injuries
  • Lower Back Pain
  • Swimmer's Ear

Swimming is an amazing and specialized movement and form of exercise that requires flexibility and strength in very specific ways - some of those perhaps not so obvious. So if you are wondering how to improve flexibility for swimming, you might want to think outside the box and standard suggestions. 

Some of the most common end range stretches swimmers do are depicted in the photo below. There are 2 primary problems with these stretches: 

  1. They are passive, missing the fascia, and over stretching joint structures.
  2. They aren't targeting the primary muscles that need to shorten in swimming.

At Bendable Body we are always concerned with what muscles need to shorten (or contract) to make any given movement. When athletes come to us for help we always discuss their sport with them and the specific movements that are giving them trouble. Once we know that it's easy for us to identify which muscles need to contract to make those specific movements and if the person is struggling with that, we also know that there is a lack of flexibility and strength due to an accumulation of dense fascia. That's where the Bendable Body Method of stretching comes in!

When it comes to swimming there are 2 primary muscle groups that need to contract for free style - or the most commonly practiced stroke. The chest muscles and the lateral hamstrings. So if you want to improve your swimming, prevent injury and remove injury from swimming, these muscle groups are very important to stretch on a regular basis - with resistance of course. 

People often ask us if they should stretch before or / after swimming (or whatever exercises they do). Do they focus on warm up or cool down? What is the importance of stretching before swimming?

Here's what we say: both are great. When you stretch before you swim, you'll swim better. When you stretch afterward, you'll recover faster. So if you are just going to choose one, choose afterward. That's your best insurance policy to keep doing what you love long term - swimming! 

If you are wondering what shoulder stretches to do for swimming, back stretches, leg stretches and how to address your ankles... we've got you covered. You can do shoulder stretches for swimming - particularly in deltoids... but you will be better served to focus on the chest and bicep muscles. Your back and legs are going to be most helped with lateral hamstring stretches... which also have the biggest impact on your ankles. So if you start stretching the chest, biceps and lateral hamstrings after your swim, you'll see major improvements in pain and injury, in stamina and your stroke will improve. Don't take our word for it. Give it a try!

Watch this video and learn how to improve flexibility for swimming:

3 thoughts on “What Stretches are Good for Swimming?”

  1. The video is marked private. Don’t see a log in. Tried to work backwards from membership but didn’t find a path. Can you open it? I swim every day and would love this video. Thx! Blair

  2. I have shoulder issues so have given up swimming. I am 75 and I don’t have the strength to do what you did on video without it hurting my shoulder. Any alternative method?

    1. We have so many versions of stretches for every muscle group. Our membership highlights this. Have you ever checked it out?

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