8 Exercises to ENSURE your Swimmer’s Shoulders are READY for Practice!

All welcome back! This post is strictly designed to help you get your swimmer’s shoulders ready for practice. I know there are plenty of teams that have already ramped up practice, and many of them are getting ready to. This is a VERY exciting time! With that, we want to make sure your shoulders are ready for the stress you’re about to put on them.

3 months without swimming (more or less in different cases) is a LONG time for your shoulder to be fairly inactive. There really is no way you could have replicated the amount of revolutions you do at home without having swim practice, so with that being said – most of our shoulder have gotten a good amount of rest.

Rest is a good thing, but there’s always a cost analysis associated. Think of this swimmer’s shoulder program we are about to discuss are your insurance to keep your shoulders healthy. Most of the time, we are not aware 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 you do a 6,000 yard practice with 1,200 of it kick. You’d approximately do 2,280 revolutions in that ONE swim practice.

Who out there 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 a baseball player and Lori swam. That’s actually how Lori and I cross 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 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.

Stretching Exercises:

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

1.) The Doorway Stretch

Lots of times we get tight in our chest with all the forward, overheard motion. The doorway stretch is a great stretch to loosen up your chest muscles and get you ready for swim practice. Hold this stretch for 3×20 seconds.

2.) The Doorway Stretch #2

This next stretch is very similar to the above stretch accept 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. What it stretches is the posterior capsule of your shoulder joint, which has a tendency to tighten up with A LOT of overhead motion. The same set applies: 3 x 20 seconds.

Physical Therapy Exercises:

Now onto the strengthening exercises. For all these exercises, you’ll need a resistance band and we recommend using the ones from Crossover Symmetry I believe they are the best resistance bands out there and they are one of Swim Like A. Fish’s partners. They require very minimal setup and breakdown and overall, are just a great product.

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

4.) Lat PullDowns

This exercise is great 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 exercises is literally the same exercise are 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 as well for this exercise.

6.) Scapula Punches

This exercise starts at the transition point of the scaption exercise above. You keep those thumbs facing forward and focus on punching the resistance bands away from your body — as far as you can. Then controlling them as you bring your hands back to your starting position. 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 your 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 — it’s your upper back muscles that move the bands! 3 x 15 on this exercise!

8.) PNF

This is the only exercise that you will use only one band for and stand perpendicular to your band set. The resistance bands should be set to floor level. Think of this exercise like you are 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 really be helpful in activating 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. Having a swimmer’s shoulder physical therapy program is GREAT for any swimmer to help them keep their strength and mobility up during EVERY point of their swimming season!

Best of luck!

Abbie Fish

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

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