8 Best Dryland Shoulder Exercises For Swimmers

All welcome back! This post will help you get your swimmer’s shoulders ready for practice. Many teams have already ramped up practice, and many are getting ready. This is a VERY exciting time! With that, we want to bring you the best shoulder exercises for swimmers to ensure your shoulders are ready for the stress you will put on them.

Three months without swimming (more or less in different cases) is a LONG time for your shoulder to be fairly inactive. You could not have replicated the number of revolutions you do at home without having swim practice, so most of our shoulders have gotten a good amount of rest.

A swimmer with strong shoulders back facing the camera.

Rest is a good thing, but there’s always a cost analysis associated with it. Think of this swimmer’s shoulder program we are about to discuss as your insurance to keep your shoulders healthy. Most of the time, we are unaware of an injury until it happens. So you may be at this blog thinking well, my shoulders don’t hurt, so I don’t need these exercises. FALSE.

Let’s do some math. If you swim a 25-yard Freestyle in 12 strokes per lap and do a 6,000-yard practice with 1,200 of it kick, you’d do approximately 2,280 revolutions in that ONE swim practice.

Who can tell me they swung their arms 2,280 times EACH day while in quarantine? That, my friends, is key here.

The Swimmer’s Shoulder Physical Therapy Program

Now, I can’t take credit for this program as I’m not a certified Physical Therapist – but the best part is I have friends who are. Last week, I cohosted a webinar with one of my best friends, Lori Hanson (PTA), and Physical Therapist, Greg Woodard. They both run a branch of BenchMark Physical Therapy in Atlanta, GA.

Greg grew up playing baseball, and Lori swam. That’s how we crossed paths at the University of Georgia.

In this webinar, Greg and Lori walked us through a Swimmer’s Shoulder maintenance/strength plan that I figured all of you would appreciate.

One of the coolest things about working with these guys is that they offer FREE 15-minute consultations—no matter where you live. So if you’d like to get in touch with them to schedule a FREE 15-minute consult, click here.

Shoulder Stretching Exercises for Swimmers:

Without any pain symptoms, one of the best places to start with ensuring your swimmer’s shoulders are ready for practice is to start with light stretching. These are the first 3 shoulder exercises of this program:

1.) The Doorway Stretch

We often get tight in our chest with all the forward, overhead motion. The doorway stretch is excellent for loosening up your chest muscles and getting you ready for swim practice. Hold this stretch for 3×20 seconds.

2.) The Doorway Stretch #2

This next stretch is similar to the above, except your elbows are further down the door. This stretches more of your pec minor muscle, which is smaller than your pec major. Your elbows on this stretch should be in line with your nipple line. Same rep scheme here: 3 x 20 seconds.

3.) The Sleeper Stretch

The sleeper stretch is by far my FAVORITE stretch as a swimmer. I did/do it all the time. It stretches the posterior capsule of your shoulder joint, which tends to tighten up with A LOT of overhead motion. The same set applies: 3 x 20 seconds.

Physical Therapy Shoulder Exercises for Swimmers:

Now onto the strengthening exercises. You’ll need a resistance band for all these exercises, and we recommend using the ones from Crossover Symmetry. They are the best resistance bands and one of Swim Like A. Fish’s partners. They require minimal setup and breakdown and are a great product overall.

Also, I have a promotional code with them if you are interested in snagging a set. Use SwimLikeA.Fish (case sensitive) at checkout to receive 15% OFF!

4.) Lat PullDowns

This exercise is excellent as it keeps your shoulder in lower plane. You take your resistance bands from above your eye level and slowly lower them down with a straight arm to your sides – feeling your lats activate. You would complete 3 x 15 of this exercise.

5.) Scaption

This exercise is the same as the one above, with a larger range of motion. You start facing away from your resistance bands – they are at floor level. From there, you lead with your thumb up and bring those bands above your head with a straight arm and back down. 3 x 15 for this exercise as well.

6.) Scapula Punches

This exercise starts at the transition point of the scaption exercise above. Keep your thumbs facing forward and focus on punching the resistance bands away from your body as far as possible. Then, control them as you bring your hands back to your starting position. Do 3 x 20 of this exercise.

7.) Reverse Flies

This exercise is done facing your bands with them set above your eye level. Think of it like you’re hugging a tree, and that’s the same amount of elbow bend you need while completing this exercise. Your elbows don’t move during this exercise; your upper back muscles move the bands! 3 x 15 on this exercise!

8.) PNF – Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation

This is the only exercise for which you will use only one band and stand perpendicular to your band set. The resistance bands should be set at the floor level. Think of this exercise as pulling something out of your pocket and bringing it up above your head. 3 x 12 on each arm is ideal!

This program is a great insurance plan to avoid any symptoms of swimmer’s shoulder. It will help activate those smaller muscles before you hit the pool and start building back up in yardage. Also, this isn’t something that you want to do a few times and stop. A swimmer’s shoulder physical therapy program is GREAT for swimmers to help them keep their strength and mobility up during EVERY point of their swimming season!

Check out our Crossover Symmetry Shoulder Health Program – a 12-week transformative course focused on bolstering your shoulder strength and enhancing your Freestyle pull!

Best of luck!

Abbie Fish

P.S. Schedule your FREE consultation with Lori and Greg Here!

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