Updated: Feb 5
Use these resistance band exercises before a big workout to reduce the chances of injuries occurring and therefore increase longevity in the sport!
A common problem swimmers have is that the repetitive motion of a freestyle stroke can lead to shoulder pain and rotator cuff injuries. Therefore, it's important to have methods in your back pocket to combat rotator cuff pain and looking at how to fix shoulder pain.
These exercises should not only be used as shoulder injury rehab, they are also a great method to warm up your swimmer shoulders correctly before a big training session. Warming up correctly is a big factor in injury prevention and increasing your longevity in the sport!
Shoulder Front Raise
This exercise is great for all fitness levels and helps build strength in the deltoids. It's recommended for physical therapy when coming off a shoulder injury and great to help prevent any shoulder injuries happening in the future.
To do it start by standing shoulder width apart, with your hand by your side. You then raise your arm forwards to around shoulder height keeping your arm slightly bent to take pressure off your joints. Hold that position for a couple of seconds and slowly return to the starting position.
It's important to avoid any momentum or body rocking as the exercise will then lose effectiveness and not target the muscles properly. For a stronger lift, keep your core engaged throughout!
Shoulder Lateral Raise
This exercise is similar to the front raise as it targets the deltoids and helps build shoulder strength and broadness. However, instead of abducting your arm in front of you, this time you raise your arm to the side.
To perform it start by standing hip width apart, with your shoulder blades back for a good posture. Then, keeping your arm slightly bent to avoid pressure on your joints, raise your arm to the side to around shoulder height. Hold for a couple of seconds and return gently back to the starting position. If you find yourself shrugging when doing this exercise, your activating the wrong muscles which therefore loses effectiveness of the exercise.
Maintaining a good posture is important so keep your eyes looking forward and support a straight spine.
External Shoulder Rotation
This is one of the more important exercises for swimmers and a classic shoulder rehab exercise that really targets the rotator cuff muscles. Swimmers want to avoid rotator cuff injuries as it restricts range of movement and causes pain when lifting your arm overhead.
To do it, tie one end of your resistance band to an anchor point, stand side on to that anchor point and tuck your elbow into your side so your arm is at a 90 degree angle. Once ready, you then push your wrist outwards away from the anchor point and your body, while keeping your elbow tucked into your side. There should only be a slight movement and should most definitely be slow and controlled. Your elbow may move a little bit to help complete the exercise but the less it moves the greater the effectiveness when targeting your rotator cuff muscles.
Internal Shoulder Rotation
This exercise has a similar look to the previous exercise but the movement of your arm is in the opposite direction. This exercise is again important for swimmers to help strengthen the rotator cuff muscles and other surrounding muscles in your shoulder.
When performing the Internal Shoulder Rotation, assume the same starting position as the previous exercise, where you stand side on to your anchor point and tuck your elbow in at a 90 degree arm bend. You then pull your band across your body aiming to bring your hand just below your sternum. Whilst performing this movement you want to keep your forearm parallel to the floor to ensure you're activating the correct muscles.
A common mistake of this exercise is twisting your body and using your core to help complete the exercise. This might be due to the resistance being too much. Stand a little closer or loosen the resistance so you are only targeting the muscles in your shoulder.
External 90 Degree Shoulder Rotation
The last exercise is possibly the hardest exercise to control and it again targets the rotator cuff muscles. The biggest challenge you'll have to face is keeping your arm at a 90 degree angle while keeping your elbow still throughout. This exercise must be done slowly to ensure maximum benefit and effectiveness.
To do it, start by tying your band to an anchor point in line with your chest, raise your arm so that your forearm is parallel to the floor and bend your elbow to a 90 degree angle. Then, while maintaining a fixed elbow position and a 90 degree arm bend, raise your arm up until your forearm is vertical. Hold that position for a couple of seconds and then slowly return to the starting position.
Maintaining a fixed elbow is the hardest part so full concentration is needed. Also, remember to keep your core engaged to help keep your body stable when doing the arm movement.
Check out the video below!!