5 Stretching Exercises to Prevent Injuries

We all know that stretching increases flexibility, but for athletes, it does a lot more than that. It can help improve circulation, range of motion, flexibility in the muscles and ultimately helps you have better cardio workouts.

Since swimming uses every part of your body, it is critical that you take time warm up your muscles and stretch.

This guide has 5 keys stretches that should be done.

 

Knees to Chest Stretch:

A fantastic stretch to loosen up your quads, back and hamstrings. Here is how you do it.

  1. Lie with your back flat on the floor and your arms by your side.
  2. Bend your knees so your your heels are touching your bum. 
  3. Tuck your knees in and bring them to your chest, while wrapping your arms around your legs (below the knees). Gently squeeze your arms.
  4. Release your arms, and bring your feet back to the floor.
  5. Repeat this about 4-6 times until you feel the tension in your lower back release.
  6. Bridge Athletic created a fantastic video below showing how to do this.

Lower-Back Knees to Chest Stretch from BridgeAthletic on Vimeo.

 

Mid Pectoralis Muscle Stretch

  1. Stand with your right side facing a wall or door frame.
  2. Put your right hand up on the wall, thumb facing up, at shoulder level.
  3. Slowly rotate your trunk to the left until a stretch is felt.
  4. Hold this for 30 seconds.
  5. Repeat this on the left.


Cobra Stretch

This is a great stretch once your lower back is warm and loose, as it will engage your mid spine, chest and abdominal muscles, and hip flexors.

  1. Lie face down, with your hands underneath your shoulders.
  2. Extend your arms by pushing your upper body away from the floor. Try to keep your pelvis as close to the floor as possible.
  3. Hold this for about 10-20 seconds.
  4. Then rotate your head in one direction and hold for 10-15 seconds, then rotate your head in the other direction and hold for another 10-15 seconds. 
  5. Look at Bridge Athletic's video below for a better understanding.

Cobra Stretch from BridgeAthletic on Vimeo.


Upper Pec & Anterior Deltoid Stretch

  1. Stand tall with your chest up.
  2. Reach behind and grasp both hands behind you.
  3. Pull your shoulders back and shoulder blades together.
  4. Lift your hands away from you with arms straight.
  5. Hold this for 30 seconds.

Hamstring Oblique Stretch

This is the final stretch that should help with your back, hamstrings and obliques.

  1. Sit on the floor with one leg facing at a 45 degree angle whith your other leg bent in and your heel touching your groin. Your legs should look like a capital L. 
  2. Make your hand (one with the same side as the extended leg) touch touch that foot. 
  3. Then hinge your torso and other hand, over your head towards the same leg. Make sure you don't fall forward but stretch in the direction towards that extended leg. Hold for about 10-15 seconds.
  4. Repeat but now switch it around, stretching the other side.
  5. Again a fantastic video on how to do this by Bridge Athletic.

Hamstring Oblique Stretch from BridgeAthletic on Vimeo.

 

Adding these stretches into your routine will help prevent injury and increase performance. Check with your coach for additional stretches to supplement your routine and watch your swimming performance improve!

October 26, 2015 by Michael Shead
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