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3 Exercises to Improve Your Swim Mobility

Precision Athletica is Sydney's first top level institute of sport accessible to the public, based at Olympic Park Athletic Centre. Precision Athletica offers a new generation of physio for sports performance, giving clients access to the same level of practitioners and high performance training equipment that an elite athlete would have in preparing for their sport. As the Official High Performance Partner of Triathlon NSW, members receive a 10% discount on Precision Athletica's services.

As the weather has warmed, the outdoor pools are open and people are gearing up for another spectacular triathlon season. For 2017, many new world champions have been crowned and we will have another this weekend at Kona. Can Daniella Ryf and Frodo make it 3 in a row, or will the Aussie contingent step it up to the plate.

For the final article on Swimming, we will show you 3 basic pool side exercises that you should introduce as part of your pre-swim warm-up. Many people neglect the opportunity to loosen-up poolside, rather favouring a few easy warm-up laps prior to moving into your pool based drills or smashing into your main set. Loosening up those muscles & joints that have been short and tightened all day can help immensely with you attaining a good streamlined position.

Whether we have just woken up, or sat all day in our office chairs, been for a long ride, the position we spend most our time in is in hip flexion. Yes some will spend a long period of time standing, but for most of us, our hip flexors (illiacus and psoas major) are in a shortened position. Tight hip flexors in a swimming position will see an increased arch in your low back. This is going to see your hips sink and your feet dragging like anchors.

Precision Athletica October 2017

Here we have a basic HIP FLEXOR LUNGE STRETCH. Now the key is not sliding your hips as far forward as you can (most people won’t need to go that far). Instead think of tucking your bottom under whilst standing up tall. You should only feel this in the front of your hip and not down the front of your thigh.





precision october 2Progression = with the arm (Left) of the hip (Left) you are stretching, reach up and away to the opposite side (right).

With all the time spent riding our bikes, sitting at our desks on the computer or reading our phones on the daily commute, our thoracic spines often become stiff and in a forward curve position (Thoracic Kyphosis). A stiff thoracic spine can create havoc with your swimming stroke. You will struggle to rotate through your spine and hips, leading to “fish-tailing” in the water. Then there is the overload created on your rotator cuff. A thoracic kyphosis leads to rounded shoulders, in turn changing the way your shoulder blade sits. This closes down the available range in your shoulders for that all important reach and early catch position.

Try this at home or whilst you are reading this at your desk. Sit in a slouched, rounded position with your arms by your side. Try and lift your hands above your head without moving your spine. Not how little overhead reach you have. Now with your hands remaining above your head, sit up tall & see how much higher those hands manage to travel. This is an easy way to illustrate how poor thoracic mobility and shoulder restrictions can lead to inefficiencies in the swim. Below are two exercises to help address this thoracic spine mobility.

Precision October 3The first involves a foam roller, a vital piece of equipment every triathlete should have in there recovery kit. First commence by lying on your back with the roller just below your neck. Lifting your hips into the air, slowly roll back & forwards through your thoracic spine. You can start with your hands behind your head to support the weight of your head. Eventually progressing to both hands above head. The key with this exercise is to relax over the roller whilst ensuring your low back remains straight; ie. don’t arch your low back. Perform this for 1-2 minutes pre every swim session and run session where good thoracic extension is critical.

Precision October 4

Precision October 5The final exercise involves a thoacic rotation exercise or “Thoracic Openers”. Whilst this will help to improve thoracic rotation, it can work as a rather good “pec” stretch at the same time. Lying on your left side, bend your right (top) knee to 90 degrees as below. With hands straight out, take the top arm up and over like a windmill reaching to the ground behind you. Hold this position for 30-60 seconds and repeat on the other side, ensuring your top knee remains in contact with the ground.

Precision Athletica October 6These are 3 key stretches that will only take a matter of minutes pre-swim. They will help you loosen up those key joints and muscles and make those valuable swim set efforts that much more effective for long term performance. These stretches should be eased into and not cause any discomfort. Should you experience any discomfort then please contact myself.


Best of luck to those racing in Kona this weekend and to everyone else in there training endeavours

Matthew Sweeney

Triathlon Physiotherapist

Precision Athletica (Olympic Park)

Engineering Australia's future elite athletes!

Sydney Olympic Park Athletic Centre | Edwin Flack Ave | Olympic Park | NSW 2127

P 02 9764 5787



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