How to stay injury-free in the pool

Do these dry-land drills to help reduce your injury risk when you’re in the water.

Swimming is often seen as a low risk form of exercise because, unlike running - where your feet are pounding the pavements thousands of times during a session - your body is supported by the water. It does, however, place a significant demand on your shoulder, which is a complex and easily injured joint because it involves so many small stabilising muscles and it moves in so many directions.

To reduce your chances of sustaining an injury, do the pre-swim warm-up drills below by the side of the pool and then do the stability exercises on non-swimming days.

Pre-swim warm-up

1. External shoulder rotations

Stand upright with your upper arms by your sides and your elbows bent at 90 degrees so that your forearms are pointing out in front of you.

Try to move your fists out to the sides in an arc without letting your upper arms come away from your body.

Do 20 reps in total.

2. Horizontal rotations

Stand upright with your upper arms parallel to the floor and your elbows bent at 90 degrees with your forearms pointing up.

Lower your fists towards the floor in an arc without changing the angle of your upper arm.

Your upper arm should rotate to generate the movement. Lower as far as you can then return to the start.

Do 20 reps in total.

3. Shoulder extensions

Stand upright with your hands level with your head and your elbows bent at 90 degrees.

Straighten both arms overhead and place one palm on top of the other then reverse back to the start.

Do 20 reps in total.

Swimming stability drill

You can do these two drills from biomechanics consultant Travis Allan on non-swimming days to strengthen and stabilise your shoulder joints. ‘These two drills are good because they externally rotate your shoulders while also working the muscles that extend your spine and that will help you get your shoulder out of the water while also helping with buoyancy,’ says Allan.

Phase 1: Swimmers trunk raise

Lie face down on the floor.

Place your hands flat on the floor, level with your face and out to the sides with your elbows bent at 90 degrees.

Slightly raise your arms and torso off the floor.

Hold that position for a count of 6 seconds. Come back to the start position for 6-10 seconds and repeat that six times.

Phase 2: Swimmers trunk raise and press

Once you have mastered phase one you can progress to this advanced exercise.

Perform the exercise above then straighten your arms above your head so they are parallel to the floor.

Once your arms are extended, hold that position and don’t let them drop.

Hold that position for a count of 6 seconds. Come back to the start position for 6-10 seconds and repeat that six times.

For more on Allan, visit travisallantt.com

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