Updated: Apr 20
The best time to stretch is when your muscles have been warmed up. Stretching when they haven’t been warmed up can lead to injuries such as pulled or torn muscles.
The best way to describe this is be using blu tack. If you pull apart blu tack when it’s cold, it snaps. However, if you warm it up first and then pull it apart, it stretches.
In swimming it's important to do lower body stretches to help improve your hip mobility and maintain good range of movement which will ultimately prevent injuries from happening in the future. As swimming uses pretty much every muscle in your body, you’ve got find time to do lots of stretches within your training routine.
Here is 5 lower body stretches that are key for swimmers to do everyday. Try to hold each of the stretching positions for at least 20-30 seconds before relaxing or changing sides. Also keep to your normal, rhythmical breathing to keep your muscles as relaxed as possible throughout.
Swimmers calves are known to be quite tight as their ankles are usually in an extended position when kicking. This extended position is also known as plantar flexion. The only time swimmers feet aren’t in plantar flexion is when swimming breaststroke. This is a stretch that every swimmer should do and it’s very simple. To do it, stand next to a wall with one foot in front of the other and bend your front knee slightly. Keep you back leg straight with your heel on the ground and lean forward towards the wall. You should feel the stretch down the back of your leg. If you find that you don’t have a wall to push against, there is an alternative way to do it. To start with get onto all fours, with straight arms and legs, and lift your hips up into the air so your body is in a V shape. You then place one foot on top of the other and slowly lower the heel of your lower foot to the ground. This is a slightly deeper stretch that everyone will be able to feel.
Your quads are involved in almost every movement of your leg. They help with knee motion from straighten and bending your knee joint. So when it comes to swimming, your quads are important for the kicking on all strokes – including balance and kick propulsion. Your quadricep muscles can easily become tight with frequent use. To stretch them out, stand on one leg with both knees touching together. Grab one foot with your hand and pull it towards your bum. Make sure when you do this stretch to keep a straight posture by pushing your chest out but more importantly, push your hips forward. This will deepen the stretch and be more beneficial.
Similar to your quadriceps, your hamstrings help with leg movement from straightening and bending your knee joint which therefore makes them important for kicking. Anyone with office jobs at a desk will more than likely have tight hamstrings from being sat in one place for many hours. There's a few ways to stretch your hamstrings effectively and this is one of the more simple ways. For this stretch, all you have to do is touch your toes while keeping your legs straight. This stretches both hamstrings at the same time as well as your lower back. However, if you want to concentrate on just one leg at a time, you can cross one leg over the other and then try to touch your toes. To increase the stretch further, aim to touch your knees with your head as well as touching your toes.
The adductors are used to help stabilize the hip joint which help with kick balance. They are also used in an explosive way especially for breaststroke so muscle tightness can be common if not stretched regularly. To do this, stand with your legs well outside hip width apart and keep your feet facing forward. Then, lean to one side and bend your knee until it is over your foot. You should then feel the stretch in your upper inner thigh.
Your glutes are attached to bones in your pelvis, hips, back and legs. If your glutes are tight, you might feel tension not only in your bum, but also in those surrounding areas that its connected to. With glutes being such a big muscles, stretching them often will increase your flexibility in other areas of your body as well as your bum. There’s a variety of ways to stretch your glutes. One way of doing it is by bringing one knee up towards your chest whilst being sat down on the floor. Place your foot over and outside your opposite leg and hug your leg as tightly, but as comfortable as you can. Make sure your hips stay fixed on the ground and your back straight during this stretch.
Check out the video below!!