Most of us swimmers know that when it comes to practice, if you’re not early, you’re late. Arriving early gives you the time you need to fix your goggles, put your cap on and catch up with your teammates. Most of us do some half hearted stretches and stare somewhat nervously at the blue abyss of the water (let’s be honest, we’re swimmers but we hate ACTUALLY getting in), but what if we could use that time to set ourselves up for a more successful practice? SwimLabs sat down with Avatus Stone, Director of Explosive Performance, one of the biggest sports performance training companies in the country, to find out how to maximize the time we have on deck before diving in.
So, why do you need to warm-up BEFORE your pool warm-up? Stone explains, “Anything that requires the body to go through resistance and repetitive movement should always have movement prep.” With swimming, you pull through the water and continuously repeat the stroke and recovery to propel yourself forward. You need to prepare the joint and core for that movement. It’s a lot more effective than just jumping in the water cold. “If you want more range of motion from your shoulder, let’s get more before you even start swimming. You’ll cut down your risk of injury and you’ll be performing better right from the beginning,” says Stone.
Cut down on injury, improve range of motion and be better from the beginning? Yes, please!
But, how much extra time will we need before practice? Stone says, “It doesn’t need to be excessive in length, typically no longer than ten minutes.” That means you can just repurpose the minutes you’re aimlessly hanging out behind the blocks into an easy warm-up session!
All the best exercises are geared toward mobility and stability exercises for the shoulders and core. Here are the five best exercises to get you warmed up for maximum performance right out of the gate:
1. Roll Out. Use a tennis ball, foam roller, lacrosse ball or massage stick to roll over trigger points and tight muscles. Pick the implement that you like the best, so you will be more committed to using it. It may be easier to use a foam roller on larger muscle areas and a ball on smaller muscles. Stone recommends: “Go easy. Let’s not push so hard that you’re bruising yourself before you get in, but shoot for 30 seconds on each body part at a moderate intensity to loosen up.” Watch Stone foam roll his quads and release his upper traps.
2. 9090 Hip Stretch Reach. This stretch gets your whole body warmed up to get in the water. It will stretch your hips, back chest and shoulders. Sit on the ground with your leg bent in front of you like in pigeon pose. Tuck your other leg behind you. Start by reaching both hands to the left and holding. Next, reach straight out in front and then to the right. View the stretch here.
3. YWAT Exercise. This is a shoulder and scapular activation and retraction exercise. Stone says, “You’re going to experience the most amount of repetition on the shoulder. You turn your arms over way faster and need to make that a priority.” For this exercise, lie flat on your stomach and draw letters using your shoulder blades. Really focus on squeezing your shoulder blades. Watch Stone’s demonstration here.
4. T-spine Mobility Exercise. This will allow you to work rotation, shoulders and core. Stone says, “To get into that streamline position, you will want the ability to rotate through your upper torso and get a reach while maintaining good hip stability.” Sit straight back on your knees and toes like child’s pose. Extend your left hand out for stability. Place your right hand on your head like you are doing a sit up. Then, rotate while you crunch in and out. Try for three sets of ten before you switch sides. See how Stone does the T-Spine Mobility Exercise here.
5. 3-Legged Dog. This is a great mobility and stability exercise. Stone explains, “It’s really good for ankle, shoulder and hamstring mobilization. It also works hip and trunk stability.” It’s like downward dog but just with one leg. To execute this exercise, you move in and out of push-up position into downward dog with one leg. Watch Stone perform the 3-Legged Dog Exercise. Remember, we don’t go to practice because we HAVE to. We all go because we are dedicated to becoming better athletes. Get on deck quickly and move with purpose. Take advantage of every minute you have to improve.
Try these five exercises before your next practice and commit to doing them every day!
If you wanted to learn more about lessons at a SwimLabs near you, please contact us! We'd be happy to answer your questions and help find a program
that is right for you and your goals!
Avatus Stone is a professional strength and conditioning coach and high performance expert. He works with multiple professional and Olympic athletes, as well as age group through college aged athletes. Avatus provides consulting and training programs to teams, coaches and individuals. Contact Avatus: email@example.com