Stretches For Swimming
Swimming is a whole body exercise, with different strokes requiring different patterns of joint movement and muscle recruitment. Key to the execution of optimal technique for almost every stroke is range of movement around the shoulders and hips. The following stretches focus on these important areas and also target the muscles of the legs, arms, and neck.
Standing Hamstring Stretch - leg elevated
Find a bench, rail, wall, or sill that offers a suitable height for your level of flexibility. Slowly place your left foot on the structure, straighten the leg, and rest your hands on the thigh. Keeping the knee soft on the supporting right leg, begin to lean your torso forward until you feel the stretch on the back of the thigh. Return the torso to upright and exit the stretch slowly. Repeat for the right leg.
Standing Glute Stretch - leg elevated
Find a bench, rail, wall, or sill that comes to hip height, or slightly above. Standing close, slowly place the outside of your left foot on the structure in line with the centre of your body, pushing the left knee downwards and outwards with your left hand. Use the right hand to maintain the position of the left foot. You should feel the stretch in your bottom and outer thigh of the elevated leg. Exit the stretch slowly and repeat for the right leg.
Standing Quad Stretch
Stand upright with both feet close together. Pick a point in the fore distance to focus on and then bring your right foot towards your bottom. Keep the knees close together, hips square, and stand tall. You should feel the stretch along the front of your right thigh. Progress the stretch by pulling the foot closer to the body. Repeat on the left leg.
Standing Inner Thigh Stretch
Take a large step forward with your left foot. Extend the right leg back and turn the right foot 90 degrees to the left foot. Slowly lower your hips towards the floor until you feel the stretch. To develop the stretch, push your hips forward and straighten the upper body, resting the hands on the left thigh. To exit, drop your hands to the floor either side of the left foot and bring the right leg slowly forward. Repeat on the left leg.
Standing Calf Stretch - Wall assisted
Stand close to a wall and take a large step backwards with your left foot, keeping the leg perfectly straight. Bend the right knee and rest folded arms against the wall at shoulder height, maintaining a straight back. Push the left heel firmly down towards the ground against the resistance of the wall. You should feel the stretch on the back of your lower left leg. To progress the stretch, take a bigger initial step. Repeat on the right leg.
Lying Hip and Lower Back Stretch
Lie flat on your back with your arms out-stretched at shoulder level. Bend your right leg at the hip and knee and place the right foot over the ankle left knee. Using the left hand, grip the right leg behind the knee and slowly twist to the left, keeping the right arm extended to the side. Progress the stretch by pulling the right leg back and down, thereby increasing the degree of rotation in the lower back. You should feel the stretch on your right hip and lower back area. To exit the stretch, release the right leg slowly and return the back and legs to full floor contact. Repeat on the left leg.
Kneeling Lat Stretch
Starting on your knees, sit back onto your heels and bring your torso onto your thighs. Extend both arms forward, keeping the hands on the floor. You should feel the stretch on both sides of the upper back.
Lie face down on the floor with both legs extended behind and your hands planted on the floor next to the ribs. Slowly push up with your arms to lift the torso off the floor, extending your lower back. Keeping your hips on the floor, straighten the arms enough to feel the stretch along the front of the stomach
Standing Mid-Back Stretch
With both feet close together and toes pointing forward, bend at the knees slightly. Bend the torso forward and down and interlock the fingers of both hands behind the knees. Push your spine upwards by pulling the stomach in, creating a curvature along the entire spine. To progress the stretch, pull against the legs, thereby widening the back, and push the spine further upwards.
Standing Chest Stretch - Wall assisted
Stand tall with your back and bottom in contact with a wall and your feet a step forward. Place the back of the hands against the wall at shoulder height with the elbows also in firm contact with the wall. To progress the stretch, slowly raise the elbows to shoulder height to form a ‘Y’ shape, trying to maintain full contact of the hands and arms with the wall.
Standing Shoulder Stretch
Stand tall with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Bring your right arm across the chest, keeping it straight. Hook the left arm underneath the right and use it to pull the upper right arm closer to the chest. You should feel the stretch across the outside of the right shoulder. Release both arms slowly and repeat the stretch on the left arm.
Standing Tricep Stretch
Stand tall with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Raise your right arm and reach down your spine with the palm of the right hand against your back. Progress the stretch by gently pulling the right elbow downwards and inwards with the left hand. You should feel the stretch down the back of the right arm. Release both arms slowly and repeat the stretch on the left arm.
Standing Neck Stretch
Stand tall with your head up and looking forward and your feet hip-distance apart. Slowly rotate your head to the right until you feel the stretch along the left hand side of the neck. Return slowly to looking forward and then rotate to the left.