Physio’s view: How to warm up before swimming

Try these exercises to help you on your training for the Swim for a Mile challenge

 After your swimming training, don’t forget your static stretches, to prevent stiffness or muscular aching. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

After your swimming training, don’t forget your static stretches, to prevent stiffness or muscular aching. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

 

If you have been preparing for the Swim Ireland Swim for a Mile challenge, you will already know the benefits that swimming offers for your body. The broad movements challenge you without exerting excessive joint impact. Each stroke allows your body to lengthen and stretch from fingertips to toes to increase flexibility.

As you train, and on the day, it’s important to warm-up . . . and this is how to do it.

- Pay attention to neck rotation (looking over each shoulder three times), and thoracic (upper spine) rotation (sitting and twisting your upper body to either side as far as you can, three times) – these are vital movements for front crawl. Open out your spine by lying over a foam roller or a rolled towel to extend your spine.

- Focus on your shoulder rotation, as this plays a large role in all swimming strokes. Practice placing the back of your hand onto the small of your back and reaching higher if you can (there should be no pain). Shoulder external rotation can be easily practiced by placing your hands behind your head and pushing your elbows wide apart.

- Moving on to the hips, focus on the hip flexor muscles, often tight in people who sit for long hours.

- Lengthen these muscles by lunging forward onto each leg. This will help you to keep your legs on top of the water, making you move faster. Keep your ankles loose with some calf stretches and ankle circles.

- After training, don’t forget your static stretches, to prevent stiffness or muscular aching.

Jenny Branigan is a chartered physiotherapist and owner of Total Physio in Sandyford and is physio to the Women’s National Football Team. See totalphysio.ie

For more on Swim Ireland’s Swim for a Mile challenge, see swimforamile.com