Stretches for Swimming

January 22, 2024

Swimming workouts utilize almost your entire body. In order to prevent injury, stretching is very important. When stretching, you should make sure you cycle through all parts of your body. This guide covers the main stretches that you should use for your arms, back, and legs. For each stretch, hold the position for 30 seconds, and repeat for both sides.

Arms & Shoulders

It’s pretty clear why competitive swimmers have strong, broad shoulders. No matter what stroke you swim, you can’t avoid using your arms and shoulders. That’s why it is so important to focus on them while stretching.

Elbow Pull for Your Arm Pit

In swimming, you’re constantly using the muscles that surround your arm pit. Every pull you take — for all four strokes — uses these muscles which include your triceps, lats, and various shoulder muscles. Make sure you stretch them out really well. Here’s how:

1. Place your right hand behind your head, and point your elbow straight up.

2. Take your left hand and place it on your right elbow.

3. Pull your right elbow inward with your left hand.

4. Hold this position. Then switch arms, and repeat.

Wall Press for Your Front Shoulder

The front of your shoulder is always a hard place to stretch. The wall press is a great way to access those hard to reach muscles. Follow these steps for a good wall press:

1. Place your right hand on a wall at shoulder height. Place your palm on the wall so your thumb is facing upward.

2. Slightly bend your right elbow.

3. Twist your body to your left — away from the wall.

4. Hold this position. Then switch arms, and repeat.

Legs & Buttocks

Since the kick propels you through the water, you will likely rely on your legs and buttocks muscles extensively. Make sure you spend some time stretching out these muscles.

Wall Lean for Your Calves

This stretch is great after long kicking sets. After you feel that burning sensation in your calves, wall leans are a great way to loosen them up. Here’s how to do a wall lean:

1. Place your hands on a wall at about shoulder-height. Keep your hands shoulder-width apart. Lean against the wall while facing toward it.

2. Scoot your right foot back as far as it can reach without straining it.

3. Place your right heel on the ground.

4. Keep your right leg straight.

5. Hold this position. Then switch legs and repeat.

Pretzel Stretch for Your Buttocks

Believe it or not, you use your buttocks a lot in swimming. You use it while you kick. You also use it every single time you push off the wall. Think about how many turns you do in every practice! You’ll soon realize how much these muscles are utilized when you begin this pretzel stretch. Follow these steps for a good pretzel stretch:

1. Sit down on the ground.

2. Bend your right leg, and place the sole of your foot flat on the ground.

3. Lift your left leg up, and place your left ankle on your right thigh.

4. Push your left knee away from you. If you’re not feeling the stretch, scoot your right foot in closer to your buttocks.

5. Hold this position. Then switch legs, and repeat.

Butterfly Stretch for Your Inner Thighs & Groin

There are a fair amount of groin injuries that occur in swimming: Especially in breaststroke. To help prevent inner thigh and groin injuries, make sure you stretch them out really well.

1. Sit up tall on the floor.

2. Bend your knees and relax your calves against the floor.

3. Press the soles of your feet together.

4. Hold your feet so that they remain touching. For a deeper stretch, press down on your knees.


In freestyle and backstroke, you constantly rotate from side-to-side. This uses your laterals and lower back constantly. Spend some time stretching out your back to get your muscles feeling loose.

Model Pose for Your Laterals

Swimmers tend to have very defined laterals for a reason. You are constantly overworking these muscles in practice. The model pose is a fantastic stretch to loosen up your overused laterals.

1. Sit on the floor.

2. Bend your left leg, and place your left foot flat on the ground.

3. Straighten your right leg.

4. Cross your left foot over your right leg.

5. Take your right elbow and press it diagonally against the outside of your left leg.

6. Push against your leg, and twist your torso.

7. Hold this position. Then switch sides and repeat.

Child’s Pose for Your Lower Back & Hips

The child’s pose will feel so good after practice! Your lower back can feel increasingly sore after practice. This stretch does a great job of accessing those lower back and hip muscles. Follow these steps for a good child’s pose:

1. Kneel down so that your whole shin is touching the floor.

2. Touch your legs together.

3. Rest your thighs on your calves.

4. Lean over your thighs so your belly touches your legs.

5. Lay your forehead on the ground.

6. Stretch your arms out in front of you with your palms facing downward.

After Practice

Although many swimmers stretch before practice, it’s even more important to stretch afterward. When you’re done with your workout, take just a few minutes to stretch out your muscles. Think about it as a warm-down. Stretching after practice will help you loosen up, and let your body repair for your next workout. You’ll feel great for your next practice!

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