Developing great posture is one of the most important aspects of both technical efficiency and injury prevention in swimming.
In his article Common Start Flaws and How to Fix Them: Posture Chris DeSantis points out that many swimmers have poor posture, which negatively affects their starts. He goes on to explain that a big reason that many swimmers have poor posture is due to ineffective stretching techniques.
The following yoga poses address three key areas of focus when developing great posture:
- Hamstring flexibility
- Shoulder Mobility
Mountain pose is simply coming into a strong standing posture. This is the perfect way to build awareness of how you hold your body and what you may need to address to have great posture more effortlessly.
How to do it:
- Place the feet hip width apart pointing forward
- Rock back and forth and side to side on your feet identifying the four corners – big toe mound, little toe mound and the inner and outer side of the heel
- Place the four corners of the feet firmly on the ground with the toes spread wide
- Bring the pelvis into a neutral position
- Engage the pelvic floor to activate the deep core muscles
- With a subtle contraction feel the belly button and ribs move towards the spine and the spine move towards the belly button and ribs
- Allow the shoulders to relax falling back and down
- Lengthen the neck feeling the earlobes over the shoulders tucking the chin slightly
- Allow the arms to fall on either side of the body with the palms facing forward
Once you come into mountain pose close your eyes and take 10 breaths. During those 10 breaths go through a body scan from toe to head and notice how you are holding your body.
2. Hamstring Flexibility
Lying Hamstring Stretch:
This is a great pose to improve hamstring flexibility. In this pose you are isolating the hamstrings by keeping the back in a stationary position on the ground.
How to do it:
- Have a strap by your side
- Lie flat on your back with your knees into the chest
- Exhale and bring the right leg straight in front of you on the ground
- Engage the right foot so the toes are curled towards the shin and point to the ceiling
- Place the strap around the ball of the left foot
- Have a bend in the left knee and bring the upper leg to a 90° angle at the hip
- On an exhale begin to bring the left leg towards straight
- If you have enough flexibility to have the leg straight, with a micro bend in the knee, you can start to bring the foot towards the head
- Make sure you keep the pelvis flat on the ground and the upper body relaxed
3. Shoulder Mobility
Chair with Cactus Arms:
In this pose you will be increasing shoulder mobility at the same time as building strength in the glutes and the musculature around the spine that both support great posture.
How to do it:
- Starting in mountain pose inhale and raise your arms overhead, ensuring the upper traps are relaxed and the shoulder blades are back and down
- Exhale shifting your weight into your heels and bringing the hips back as if you were sitting into a chair
- Keep your knees behind the toes and the upper body erect with the hips in a neutral position
- Inhale and bring your arms to cactus (90° at the shoulders and 90° at the elbows)
- Staying engaged in your core and keeping the ribs in exhale and bring your arms back stretching through the chest and shoulders
This Yoga for Swimmers article is brought to you by Swimming Specific Yoga the world’s top resource for online yoga classes and courses designed for swimmers.
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