If you don’t stretch regularly, it’s time to start! Consistent stretching can help you reduce injuries, improve your posture and boost recovery after your swim workouts. Plus, it just feels good!
To help you build your mobility routine, we’re sharing our top tips, including when to stretch, when to do dynamic vs. static stretches, and our favorite five stretches for swimmers specifically.
Why Swimmers Should Stretch
Whether you swim or not, stretching is a good addition to your routine for overall health and longevity. But for those of us who hit the pool regularly, stretching helps:
- Improve mobility & flexibility: Poor flexibility can cause muscle imbalances that make you more prone to injury.
- Prevent injury: Regular mobility work can help keep your joints in proper alignment and reduce your chances of injury – especially in your shoulders!
- Boost recovery: Building mobility is key to building strength. Stay consistent with your stretching routine and you’ll feel strong and energized for every workout!
When to Stretch
There are two distinct types of stretching: Dynamic and static. Here’s when to do each one for optimal results:
- Dynamic stretching before workouts gets your blood flowing and opens up your range of motion for your workout. Avoid holding stretches for too long and instead opt for a bit more movement. If you do choose to do some longer holds, try a couple rounds of 5-10 seconds instead of a minute or longer.
- Static stretching after workouts helps muscles recover and can help reduce soreness. Try holding a stretch for 30 seconds to a minute here, and focus on breathing deeply for more benefits!
For more guidance on stretching, check out the MySwimPro app! Our Dryland Training Plans include dynamic warmups and cool downs in every workout to ensure you’re getting what your body needs to perform and avoid injuries.
Related: 34 Stretches for Swimmers
Before we dive into our favorite stretches, keep these tips in mind to make the most out of your static stretching sessions.
- Breathe deeply: When your breath is slow, deep and controlled, it signals to your body that it’s ok to relax and deepen the stretch.
- Consider your alignment: Maintain good posture as you stretch
- Don’t push too far: You might not be super flexible and that’s ok! You still get the benefits of stretching even if you can’t quite touch your toes! Find your comfortable “edge” where you feel a stretch but are not in pain. You will improve over time!
- Create a habit: Stretch at least three times a week for best results! 10 minutes, 20 minutes, 1 hour…do what works best in your schedule. Consistency is most important.
Try These 5 Stretches for Swimmers
These stretches are just the tip of the iceberg…for more stretches and guided routines designed for swimmers, check out the MySwimPro app!
1. Hip Flexor Stretch
This stretch opens up the front of your legs to help relieve tightness after lots of kicking (or sitting at a desk, if you work a lot!). As you stretch, think about tucking the pelvis under for a deeper stretch. For even more. try reaching your arm overhead or leaning to the side to intensify the stretch.
2. Downward Dog
This foundational yoga pose is a great, full-body stretch. It opens up the entire back of your body, but especially the hamstrings and calves. It’s also great for the shoulders!
Think about engaging your core while you hold downward dog, and bend your knees if you are feeling the stretch too much in your lower back. Your heels don’t have to touch the ground, either. Try to avoid shrugging your shoulders up to your ears. Keep the neck long!
3. Lying Twist
The lying twist is a fan favorite. This stretch opens up the spine and chest for better rotation in the water, loosens up the shoulders and stretches the lower back.
When doing this stretch, try to keep both shoulders down on the ground to intensify the stretch. If your knees don’t twist all the way to the ground, don’t worry…you’re still getting all the benefits!
4. Child’s Pose
Another classic yoga posture, child’s pose is a relaxing stretch that’s great for the lower body. When you add this stretch to your routine, you’re mobilizing your hips, lower back and shoulders.
Start with your toes together and spread your knees as wide as is comfortable. Try to get your butt to your heels, but it’s ok if it doesn’t quite touch. Rest your head on the ground & avoid shrugging your shoulders up to your ears.
For a little extra, walk your arms over to the right and left to stretch out your lats!
5. Standing Streamline
If you struggle to get into proper streamline position in the water, try practicing on land! The streamline stretch will help improve your shoulder mobility. For an extra balance challenge, rise up onto your tiptoes while you hold your streamline!
Bonus: Mobilize Your Ribs for Better Breath Control
You may not think of breathing as a stretching activity, but it is, to some extent. There are small intercostal muscles between your ribs, and when they’re tight your accessible lung capacity is reduced. To mobilize your intercostal muscles and improve your breath control in the pool, check out the Airofit Breathing Trainer!
Train with Airofit just 5-10 minutes per day to improve your breath efficiency, anaerobic threshold and accessible lung capacity so you can hold your breath longer off the walls and work harder in races.
Try the swimming-specific training programs in the Airofit Sport app, and watch your breath control skyrocket! After just four weeks of training with Airofit, Fares increased his accessible lung capacity by 25%.
Let us know your favorite post-swim stretches in the comments! Download the MySwimPro app to start your personalized Swim and Dryland Training Plan.