Yoga for Swimmers: Increasing Thoracic Spine Mobility

Increasing thoracic spine mobility is an essential part of any yoga for swimmers program.

The work that swimmers do both in and out of the water can cause stiffness that restricts range of motion in the thoracic spine. This restriction can compromise both technical efficiency as well as shoulder health.

A lack of mobility in the thoracic spine can create dysfunction in the movement of the shoulder blades. This can potentially decrease the ability to create power in an overhead position and be a cause of shoulder injuries.

Yoga for Swimmers Poses to Improve Thoracic Spine Mobility

The following four poses are part of a swimming-specific yoga practice that increases the mobility in the thoracic spine. The first three include twisting movements. It is important to remember that the main movement in these poses should come from the action in the spine and not through shifting the pelvis.

Maintaining shoulder stability is also very important in these poses. Many compromise shoulder stability in an attempt to gain more range. You should never sacrifice stability in a quest to improve range of motion.

Thread the Needle

Yoga for SwimmersYoga for Swimmers 

Cues:

  • Start in table top
  • On an inhale lift your right arm up and out to the side twisting through the spine opening through your chest and shoulder
  • On an exhale bring your right arm under your left moving your forehead and arm towards the ground

To find out more about this pose including benefits, modifications, cautions, common errors and alternative poses visit our yoga for swimmers pose library.

 

Lunge with Shoulder and Chest Opening Twist

Yoga for Swimmers

Cues:

  • Start in a runner’s lunge with your right foot forward
    • The back knee can be up or down
  • Bring your left hand towards the left side of your mat keeping your hand on the ground
  • Think of your shoulder and arm as one unit inhale and bring your right arm up and out to the side twisting through the spine opening through your chest and shoulder
  • Draw your upper arm back into the shoulder socket
  • Roll your shoulder back rather than dropping the arm back
  • Ensure that your right knee stays pointed straight forward

To find out more about this pose including benefits, modifications, cautions, common errors and alternative poses visit our yoga for swimmers pose library.

Forward Fold Twist

Cues:

  • Start in a standing forward fold
  • On the next exhale bring your right hand to the outside of the left shin or ankle
  • On an inhale bring your left arm up and out to the side twisting through the spine and opening through your chest and shoulder
  • Ensure that:
    • Your knees are even and pointed straight forward
    • Your left arm is extended straight from the shoulder socket
    • You draw the upper arm back into the shoulder socket bringing the shoulder back rather than dropping the arm back

To find out more about this pose including benefits, modifications, cautions, common errors and alternative poses visit our yoga for swimmers pose library.

Yoga for SwimmersYoga for Swimmers

Cobra Variation

Cues:

  • Start by lying flat on your stomach
  • Place your hands directly by your ribs with your fingers tips at the bottom of the shoulder sockets
  • Have your elbows tucked in towards your ribs
  • On an exhale press the top of your feet into the ground engaging your quads and feeling the knees lift off the ground slightly
  • On an inhale lift your chest and shoulders off of the ground to whatever extent is comfortable for your ROM
    • If you feel any pain in your back come out of this pose
  • This pose is not the same as a traditional cobra pose. The focus should be on the mid spine and you will not be able to bring your chest as high off of the ground.

To find out more about this pose including benefits, modifications, cautions, common errors and alternative poses visit our yoga for swimmers pose library.

 

Yoga for Swimmers

Whenever participating in a yoga session ensure that you are following the guidelines for a healthy practice:

  1. Using your awareness
  2. Allowing yourself to come into poses
  3. Focus on your breath

This Yoga for Swimmers article was created by Swimming-Specific Yoga the world’s top resource for online yoga classes and courses designed for swimmers.

Take a tour of our website to see several different resources you can use to enhance your swimming performance.

Sign up here to receive the Swimming-Specific Yoga newsletter which includes information on how yoga can enhance both your swimming performance and your wellness.

Visit our YouTube channel for more short classes and lessons.

What people are saying about Swimming-Specific Yoga

“Jeff has worked with the HPC-Vancouver swimmers since the fall of 2016 delivering swimming specific yoga classes twice a week.

The swimmers have enjoyed the approach and orientation that Jeff brings to every class. I feel they are more flexible, more aware of their bodies and are able to control their thoughts much better.”

Tom Johnson
11 time Canadian Olympic Swim Team Coach

 

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About Jeff Grace

Jeff Grace

Jeff is a 500 hour registered yoga teacher who holds diplomas in Coaching (Douglas College) and High Performance Coaching (National Coaching Institute - Calgary). He has a background of over 20 years in the coaching profession, where he has used a unique and proven teaching methodology to help many achieve their …

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