Yoga for Swimmers – Using Yoga to Increase Shoulder Mobility

The development of shoulder mobility is an important element of a swimming-specific yoga practice. Many swimmers have extremely tight shoulders, which limits their range of motion. This limited range of motion can have not only have a negative effect on performance, but can also leave swimmers vulnerable to injuries.

This swimming-specific yoga shoulder mobility sequence is an incredible way to open up through the shoulders in several different ways.

This sequence includes the following swimming-specific yoga poses.

Standing Cat

Benefits:

  • Increases shoulder, wrist and spinal mobility
  • Improves scapular awareness
  • Opens up through the upper back
  • Stress relief

Cues:

  • Start in mountain pose
  • Interlace your fingers and bring your hands in front of your sternum with your palms facing away from you
  • On an exhale extend the arms at the same time rounding through the upper back and feeling the space between the shoulder blades widen
  • Allow your neck to relax dropping your chin towards your chest

Swimming-Specific YogaSwimming-Specific Yoga

Overhead reach

Benefits:

  • Increases shoulder, wrist and spinal mobility
  • Stretches the forearms
  • Improves scapular awareness
  • Stretches the back and sides of the body

Cues:

  • Start in standing cat
  • On an inhale begin bring the palms to point straight to the sky
  • At the same time as reaching towards the sky bring the spine into a neutral position
  • Reach through the back and the sides of the body

Swimming-Specific Yoga

Standing Chest Opener

Benefits:

  • Increases shoulder mobility
  • Strengthens the neck
  • Improves posture
  • Opens through the front of the body

Cues:

  • Start in mountain pose
  • Inhale and bring the arms up and overhead
  • Interlace the fingers bringing your hands behind your head
  • On an exhale press your head into your hands and your hands into your head lengthening your neck
  • Keeping the spine in a neutral position and the core slightly engaged start to bring the elbows back stretching through the chest and the inside of the shoulders

Swimming-Specific YogaSwimming-Specific Yoga

Standing Neck Stretch

Benefits:

  • Increases neck mobility
  • Improves posture
  • Stress relief

Cues:

  • Start in mountain pose
  • On an inhale bring your arms out, up and overhead
  • Interlace your fingers and bring your hands behind your head
  • On an exhale press your hands into your head and your head into your hands feeling the neck lengthen
  • On the next exhale drop you chin towards your chest allowing your elbows to come towards each other stretching the gently stretching back of the neck

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Eagle Arms

Benefits:

  • Increases shoulder mobility
  • Improves scapular awareness
  • Stretches the shoulders and upper back

Cues:

  • Start in mountain pose
  • On an inhale bring your arms out, up and overhead
  • On an exhale and bring your left arm under your right
  • Draw the forearms towards each other working with your own range of motion
  • In the full expression of this pose the forearms will be crossed and the hands will be wrapped
  • Press your forearms away from you feeling the space between the shoulder blades widen
  • Keep the traps relaxed

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This sequence can be done before practice to increase range of motion. It can also be used after a practice to stretch out the shoulders allowing for more effective recovery.

This Yoga for Swimmers article is brought to you by Swimming-Specific Yoga the world’s top resource for online yoga classes and content designed for swimmers and multi-sport athletes.

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Coachdk

In my opinion, eagle arms (the last one) is actually bad for swimmers! I believe it creates shoulder joints that are too loose for swimming, and can very easily lead to shoulder problems. Proper shoulder stability is key to avoiding swimmers shoulder. More shoulder mobility is definitely not always better.

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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