A PT-approved swim warm-up for all levels

WWith summer just around the corner and temperatures rising, you might be thinking about getting back in the pool and doing a few laps. Not only does swimming offer a respite from the heat, but it’s also a very viable cross-training method if you’ve been hitting sidewalks, trails, road or mountain bike trails all spring.

Additionally, swimming is an excellent fitness activity that builds aerobic capacity (the amount of oxygen your body can use while exercising), promotes brain health, and is considered a longevity exercise by neurobiologists. To make things even more appealing, swimming is a non-impact activity because you’re moving through the water and not hitting the bottom, which puts significant ground reaction forces on your body – which isn’t a bad thing, just something, by the way other stress on your muscles and joints.

While swimming doesn’t require the same level of stress and strength as other forms of cardio, says Kristina Kam, DPT, you still have to pay close attention to the demands that swimming places on your body, and it’s part of it also to warm up properly while swimming. “You may not think that swimming is something you have to ‘prepare’ for because you’re in the water and it seems easier than, say, running or cycling,” she says. “But swimming leads to significant muscle activation in the shoulders, chest, back and core areas. In addition, the shoulder joint — also called the glenohumeral joint, which has the greatest range of motion in the body — constantly has to adapt to the movements of your arms up, down, and through the water.”

In other words, swimming puts a special strain on your body that you need to be prepared for. This load is also very repetitive since swimming is a cyclical sport that involves performing the same movement over and over again, which can lead to overuse due to repetitive loading. Accordingly, a swim warm-up that targets the high-wear areas is very helpful in helping you stay in the pool with less pain and swim faster.

Swimming coach Adam Nelson, who emphasizes the importance of a proper swim warm-up for any of his athletes, says it’s incredibly important because it prepares you for the actual swim. “We found that ‘priming the system’ gave our athletes better times in the pool and also made them healthier,” he says. “The best part is that once you’ve done it, an effective warm-up can take as little as five to seven minutes.”

Coach Nelson values ​​one Effective warm up. So what does that mean? Because swimming is a well-researched sport that involves repetitive movements, it’s easier to identify which muscles and joints are being used the most. Studies looking at muscle activity and joint mobility have found important similarities between the key strokes. For example, it requires greater muscle demands in the anterior deltoids (front of the shoulder), lats (lateral back muscles), and biceps, along with mobility demands in the shoulder blades (scapula) and the aforementioned shoulder joint (glenohumeral joint).

With those needs in mind, I created this five-part swim warmup that will prepare you for the pool

A few important notes before we get into the details. The only equipment you need to do this is a standalone resistance band. Choose a resistance level where the final reps of the exercise are moderately challenging (remember, this is just a warm-up and we’re not trying to burn out!).

Part 1: Volume series

Perform 10 repetitions of each of the following exercises.

Part 2: Raise series

Perform 10 repetitions of each of the following exercises.

Part 3: Finger and Forearm Activation

Perform 10 repetitions of the following exercises.

Part 4: Mobility of the shoulder blade (scapular).

Complete five rounds of the following sequence.

Part 5: Mobility of the shoulder (glenohumeral).

Perform five rounds of the following sequence (one side each).

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