Many muscles and joints are naturally tight in swimmers—particularly around the shoulders, chest and ankles. Too much tension can lead to injury or chronic pain over time because the musculature around these joints pulls them out of alignment and restricts their natural range of motion.
Stretching can help avoid muscle build up and tension in swimmers and, consequently, improve their range of motion. This not only helps to prevent injury but also enhance performance in the water. Without flexibility, swimmers can never achieve their maximum power or speed.
What Happens When We Stretch Our Muscles?
Stretching lengthens our muscles and increases their elasticity. It also increases blood-flow, which aids in recovery from and preparation for physical activity. That’s why many swimmers stretch before a big race or training session.
Just ten minutes of light stretching can effectively restore balance to muscles and help alleviate stiffness. After age 21, this is more so true because older muscles are more susceptible to unexpected pulls and tears.
Methods of Stretching
There are various means to stretch your muscles—from simple exercises to foam rolling. Alternatively, you can also visit a physiotherapist or masseuse to further relax your muscles. For more information on which stretches to perform, consult the following two articles: “Stretches for Swimming” and “Exercises for Swimmers.”