7 Vital stretching exercises for swimmers

Swimming is an all-body workout and to prevent injury, stretching is very important. Here are 7 vital stretching exercises for swimmers before training.

When stretching, you should make sure you cycle through all parts of your body. Swimming workouts utilize almost your entire body.  Do not stretch to the point of feeling pain, otherwise, you risk tearing a muscle. Hold each stretch for 20-30 seconds. Take deep breaths and relax. Stretching at the end of a workout is just as important.

  1. Elbow Pull 

In swimming, you constantly using the muscles that surround your Axilla (underarm). Every pull you make, for all four strokes, uses these muscles which include your triceps, back muscels (lats), and several shoulder muscles. Be sure you stretch them out really well. Here’s how: Keep your head up, chin off your chest and looking forward, with a straight upright spine.

7 Vital stretching exercises for swimmers

1. Place your left hand behind your head/back, and point your elbow straight up.

2. Take your right hand and place it on your left elbow.

3. Pull your left elbow inward with your right hand.

4. Hold this position. Then switch arms, and repeat.

2. Wall shoulder press – The front of your shoulder is always a hard place to stretch. The wall press is a great way to access those hard to reach muscles. Follow these steps for a good wall press

7 Vital stretching exercises for swimmers

1. Place your left hand on a wall at shoulder height. Place your palm on the wall so your thumb is facing upward.

2. Slightly bend your left elbow.

3. Twist your body to your right — away from the wall.

4. Hold this position. Then switch arms, and repeat.

3A. Legs & buttocks stretch

Swimmers rely extensively on legs & buttock muscles for that ‘kick’ to propel them through the water. Make sure you spend some time stretching out these muscles.

Wall Lean for Your Calves

This stretch is good after those long kicking sets. After you get that burning sensation in your calves, wall leans will be a great way to loosen them up. 

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How to do the wall lean

1. Place your hands on a wall at shoulder-height. Keep your hands shoulder-width apart. Lean against the wall while facing it.

2. Place your left foot back as far as it can reach without straining it.

3. Place your left heel on the ground.

4. Keep your leg straight with your heel down.

5. Hold this position. Then switch legs and repeat.

3B. Pretzel stretch for your gluteal muscles (buttocks)

The three muscles which make up the buttocks are used a lot during swimming. You use it while you kick and every time you turn and kick off the wall…and that happens a lot.

You will soon realize how much these muscles are used when you do the pretzel stretch.

7 Vital stretching exercises for swimmers

Follow these steps for a great pretzel stretch

1. Sit down on the ground.

2. Bend your left leg up towards your chest and place the sole of your foot flat on the ground.

3. Lift your right leg, and place your right ankle on your left thigh.

4. Push your right knee away from you. If you’re not feeling the stretch, slide your left foot in closer to your buttocks.

5. Hold this position. Then switch legs, and repeat.

4. Stretch and flex those lats with the ‘Model Pose’ Stretch

Swimmers tend to have very defined laterals (middle back muscles) for a reason. Swimmers are constantly overworking these muscles in practice. The model pose is a fantastic stretch to loosen up those tired and overworked back muscles.

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1. Sit on the floor.

2. Bend your left leg, and pull it towards your chest. Place your left foot flat on the ground.

3. Straighten your right leg.

4. Cross your left foot over your right leg.

5. Take your right elbow and press it diagonally against the outside of your left leg.

6. Push against your leg, and twist your torso. Hold this position and then switch legs.

5. Seated butterfly stretch for groin and inner thigh.

There are a fair amount of groin injuries that occur in swimming, especially in breaststroke. The butterfly stretch improves flexibility of the inner thigh adductor muscles.

These muscles are used to draw your legs together. To help prevent inner thigh and groin injuries, make sure you stretch them out really well.

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1. Sit on the floor and straighten your spine, tucking your chin in toward your chest.

2. Bend your knees and relax your calves against the floor and press the soles of your feet together.

3. Hold your feet so that they remain touching. For a deeper stretch, press down on your knees.

4.To deepen the intensity, move your feet closer in toward your hips, but don’t overdo it.

6. Child’s Pose stretches the muscles of the low back & hip muscles.

Child’s Pose is deeply relaxing. It promotes flexibility, stress relief and helps circulation to the muscles, joints, and disks of the back after swimming practise.

Lower back discomfort, after swimming practice, is quite common. This stretch does a great job of accessing those lower back and hip muscles. 

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Follow these steps:

1. Kneel down so that your whole shin is flat on the floor.

2. Keep your legs together.

3. Rest your thighs on your calves.

4. Lean over your thighs so your tummy touches your legs.

5. Put your forehead on the ground.

6. Stretch your arms out in front of you with your palms facing downward.

Last but not least...the bonus

7. Wall Angel Exercise.

  1. Stand up against a wall with your feet about 25cm away from wall.
  2. Keep your lower back, mid-back, and the back of your head in contact with the wall.
  3. Engage your core by drawing your belly button inward towards your spine. Breath
  4. Slowly raise your arms while keeping them in contact with the wall.
  5. Hold for 5 to 10 seconds before bringing your arms back down. Repeat. Remember to breathe.
7 Vital stretching exercises for swimmers

A special thanks to Sidny Adams and her mom Samantha for making it possible for me to write this article, 7 vital stretching exercises for swimmers. Thanks for taking the time reading through all the data and posing to illustrate these stretching exercises. Sidny is an 11-year-old level 2 swimmer at Aquawolf Swim Club. A great fan of Chad Le Clos. She is one of the most dedicated and committed young swimmers in our club. She joined us in 2019 and is slowly but surely climbing the ladder to success. Thank you Sam & Sidny.