The most common injury that swimmers suffer from is a shoulder injury. These injuries can range from inflammation to a torn rotator cuff and can come from bad form, or simply that the shoulder isn’t strong enough to pull the body through the water. Elite swimmers swim up to 9 miles a day during training, which means they do at least 2500 shoulder rotations in each practice. A study of NCAA swimmers found 4 injuries for 1000 hours of training for male swimmers and for female swimmers, 3.78 injuries for 1000 hours of training. Another study showed that ninety-one percent of elite swimmers between the ages of thirteen and twenty-five have at least one moment of shoulder pain. Besides fixing bad form, the best way to prevent these injuries from occurring is to strengthen the shoulder. Here are four exercises that can strengthen the shoulder and help prevent injuries:
- Shoulder Extension-
How To: Anchor one end of the band and keep the other end of the band free. Stand with your back facing the anchor point and grab the free end of the band. Keep your hand out in front of you, then pull back, keeping your shoulder down and engaged, then return to starting position.
Reps: This should be done twelve to twenty times on each side.
- External Rotations-
How To: Anchor one end of the band so when you step away, there will be resistance in the band. Grab the other end of the band and pull it directly across your body, keeping your elbow against your side. Make sure you keep you scapula tight and keep you shouldered lower so the exercise strengthens the rotator cuff. If you feel it in your arms, your shoulder isn’t lowered.
Reps: This should be done for one minute on each side, a total of two minutes, for a set of three.
- Internal Rotations-
How To: This is the opposite of the external rotations. Grab the end of the band and take a step away from the anchor point so there is tension in the band. Rotate the arm away the where the band is being anchored across the body. Make sure the elbow stays connected to the side of the body and the shoulder down so the tension is focused on the shoulder. If you feel it in your arms, your shoulder isn’t lowered.
Reps: Just like the external rotations, this should be done for one minute on each side, a total of two minutes, for a set of three.
- T Fly-
How To: Wrap the band around a poll of something that anchors the band and grab an end of the band in each hand and step back until there is tension. Pull your hand out to form a “T” shape, then returning to the starting position. This is to strengthen the muscles between your shoulder blade, so stand up straight, contract your abs, and keep the shoulders down to keep the focus on the shoulder muscles. If you fee it in your arms, your shoulders aren’t lowered.
Reps: This should be done twelve times, for a set of three.
- McQuaid, Melanie. “Shoulder Exercises For A Stronger Swim.” Triathletecom. N.p., 21 Jan. 2013. Web. 20 Sept. 2015.
- Geier, Dr. David. “Surprising Statistics about Swimming Injuries.” Dr. David Geier. Sports Medicine Simplified, 01 Aug. 2012. Web. 21 Sept. 2015.
- “Shoulder Exercises – Reverse Fly with Band.” YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. 21 Sept. 2015.
- “Rotator Cuff Exercise – Internal Rotation – Shoulder Rehab.” YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. 21 Sept. 2015.
- “Rotator Cuff Exercise – External Rotation – Shoulder Rehab.” YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. 21 Sept. 2015.
- “Theraband Shoulder Extension – Atlanta Falcons Physical Therapy Centers – Home Edition.” YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. 21 Sept. 2015.
Excellent article outlining some simple but very useful shoulder strengthening exercises that all swimmers should include in their training. As a physical therapist who works with athletes, I feel compelled to make a few corrections/suggestions: In the Shoulder Extension section the video is correct but the explanation says to stand with back facing the anchor point, I think this is a typo, should be just facing the anchor point as shown in video. The External Rotation exercise is perfect and in my opinion the most important of any of these four; I have an argument with including Internal Rotation (IR) at all though. Swimmers spend almost their entire practice in the pool doing some form of IR and therefore their… Read more »