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  • May

    The Shoemaker Tri Review: Using Stretch Cords

    By Jarrod Shoemaker

    As athletes we are constantly bombarded with information about the next best gadget that can measure this or help us do that. However, there is one accessory that is cheap, useful, and every athlete should have in his or her bag of tricks. That gadget is a stretch cord.

    Stretch cords are a useful tool for every athlete. The list of uses for stretch cords are long, but I will focus on some of the important uses and some recommendations for buying stretch cords.

    1) Pre-Race Warm-ups
    In many cases athletes are not able to get into the water for a pre-race swim warm-up. This can be due to many factors including cold, timing or space. In this case, all you need is your stretch cord, a post or tree and a few feet of space. I have also found that sometimes getting in to warm-up in cold water is counterproductive, but using stretch cords allows you to loosen up your shoulders.

    Wrap or tie your stretch cord around a fixed object, bend at the waist with arms in front of you and mimic the arm motion in your swim stroke. The StretchCordz with paddles is perfect for pre-race warm-ups and, with its paddles, puts your hands in the correct position for swimming.

    2) Pool Use
    Other stretch cords are made specifically for pool use. The Finis Stationary Cord Long Hip Belt is a great tool for any athlete. You can use this cord in two ways:

    a) Tie onto the edge of the pool and swim with resistance. This is great for strength training, but also if you have a very small pool to get in a workout.

    b) Swimming with the band pulling you, giving you extra speed and working on turnover. These are fun to do leading into races to work on speed.

    There are several other options for stationary stretch cords:
    Aquavee Portable Swim System
    StretchCordz Stationary Swim Trainer
    HomeSwimmer Stationary Swimming System

    3) Exercises
    There are many exercises that you can do with stretch cords, I will first focus on some for pre-hab. Pre-hab is the opposite of rehab, basically meaning doing exercises before you start to have any pain or injuries.

    a) Internal/external rotations: these exercises will help with your rotator cuff. Stand with your stretch cord around a post or fixed object directly to your side.

    b) Bicep curls can be done by standing on the cord to anchor it and doing a bicep curl.

    c) Lat pull downs are done by raising arms above head and pulling down and out.

    d) Go online and search for more exercises! There are a lot of resources available for stretch cord exercises.

    One misconception about stretch cords is that more resistance is better, but this is not true. You want to have the mobility to move your arms through the full range of motion. The StretchCordz Modular Set comes with bands plus handles, paddles, and ankle bands. This is easy to pack and will allow lots of different uses. You also can buy Sporti Stretch Cords which come in 5 different color coded resistances from extra light to extra heavy. I found these are simple and easy to use and carry with you.

    As an athlete it is the little things that will make you a better athlete. Using a stretch cord will help you in a pinch when you find you do not have a big enough pool or when you need to fit in an extra strength workout and you do not have a gym. There are a lot of quality stretch cords on the market, but the key is not buying one with too heavy resistance, as it will always be impossible for you to use.

    Tell us your favorite stretch cord exercise in the comments below before 11:59pm on May 22 for a chance to win a set of stretch cords!


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    6 years ago.
    I would love to try these for myself and my clients
    6 years ago.
    My favorite exercise with a stretch cord is to grab the cord with my hands about 1.5 feet apart and then move my arms from in front of me to over my head while trying to keep the cord at the same tension. This exercise strengthens my shoulders and is a great stretch too!
    Coach Brewer
    6 years ago.
    Perhaps my favorite exercise/drill to use with the stretch cords for my team is a breaststroke pull. The swimmer will stand back from a bar that the cord is put around, leaning over with arms fully extended forward(like the glide portion of the breaststroke) and their legs slightly bent and about shoulder-width apart for stability. The swimmer will then do a breaststroke pull emphasizing fast hands. The idea is for the swimmer to feel the resistance and still make the pull one motion without hesitation. There should be a pause between arm pulls to mimic glide and to reflect on what can be done on the next pull to make it feel more efficient. A set of these would be very beneficial for my team. One or two doesn't quite cut it for a team of about 40.
    Ann T
    6 years ago.
    Supplementary training while traveling without access to a pool!
    Liz H.
    6 years ago.
    My favorite exercise with this amazing tool is what I call pull pumps. With my legs slightly bent, hips width apart, I bend at the waist till my back is in line with the cords. I start with both arms extended and then pull until my elbows are slightly bent and I begin the pull process. I do little pumps at this point of the stroke. It really helped me feel for this in the water, allowing my pulls to start this early as opposed to when my hand is already down by my shoulders. It also strengthened this part of the pull, which helped my overall speed tremendously. Love it! Use it every week!
    6 years ago.
    I use the cords to mimic butterfly moves, I have a tiny frame and I hope that using the cords will help my shoulders and arms to pull more water
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