7 Simple Stretches to Help Prevent Injuries in Competitive Swimmers


by: Amy Morlock – Bel Air, Maryland Center

With all this cold weather, we are all looking forward to warmer days and the start of swimming season.

Below are seven simple stretches for your entire body to help prevent injuries. If you already have tightness in some muscles, it’s not too late to start a stretching program.

Guidelines for all stretches:

  • Breathe throughout the stretch
  • Only stretch until you feel a comfortable pull, not pain
  • Hold each stretch for two to three repetitions, 20-30 seconds
  • Do not bounce as you hold the stretch
  • Stretching should be done daily
  • Stretch bilaterally unless otherwise instructed

1. Side-lying shoulder stretch

Lie on your side on a flat surface with bottom arm at 90 degrees shoulder abduction and elbow flexion.  Take top arm and gently pull the hand of the bottom arm toward the floor.  Stop pulling when you feel a stretch in your shoulder, not pain.

2. Wall walks shoulder stretch

To stretch your shoulder flexors, stand facing a wall with neck relaxed. Slowly walk your fingers up the wall until you feel a comfortable stretch and then slowly walk back down.  To stretch your shoulder abductors, stand perpendicular to the wall and walk your fingers up until you feel a stretch.  Stand far enough away from the wall so that your arm is fully extended (shown in pictures).

3. Doorway shoulder stretch

To stretch the shoulder rotators, stand inside a doorway with your arm in 90 degrees shoulder abduction and elbow flexion.  Lean or step forward until you feel a comfortable stretch in the front of your shoulder and hold.

4. Neck stretch

Tilt your head so one ear is closer to the same-side shoulder.  Place same side hand on top of head and gently pull head toward shoulder until a comfortable stretch is felt in the opposite-side neck muscles.  Repeat for opposite side.

5. Hamstring stretch

Lie on back and place a towel around the bottom of your foot.  With a straight leg, gently pull your foot toward your head until you feel a comfortable stretch in the back of your leg.

6. Quadriceps stretch

While lying on your side or standing, grasp your foot with one hand and pull the heel toward your bottom until you feel a comfortable stretch in the front of your thigh, not in your back.

7. Piriformis Stretch

Lie on your back, cross one leg over the opposite thigh. Using both arms, pull the bottom leg toward your chest until you feel a stretch in the top leg’s hip muscles. Do not strain to reach your leg; hold on to two ends of a towel and wrap the towel around your legs and pull toward you if necessary.


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