How to Prevent Swimming Injuries

 In Exercise and Health


Training consistently is a necessary and unquestioned component of any swimmer’s success.  All swimmers do the work. The laps and laps, the kilometers upon kilometers, set after set. It’s the rhythm of a swimmer’s life. With such focus on attending and completing swimming sessions it’s potentially easy to forget or devote the time required to look after your body. Think of your body as a swimming machine. Like any machine they need regular servicing to work at their best, and to avoid the all too common array of swimming injuries which can develop.


Below you will find  5 tips to look after your swimming machine-your body. If regularly performed these exercises will assist you in preventing the likelihood of developing one of many potential swimming injuries.  These tips will significantly reduce your risk of injury, potentially make you faster, and allow you to train without interruption due to the time out that results with injury.

  1. Stretch your hip flexors and quadriceps: The large muscles at the front of your thighs tend to get very tight as result of day to day life. We sit a lot (at school and work) and the tightness that is subsequently created in these muscles will have an adverse effect on a swimmers position in the water. These muscles will tilt the pelvis downwards which will create a less than ideal streamline position through the water (the bottom will poke up). The best way to stretch these muscles is to stretch against a wall (refer to video). The stretch needs to be held for 2min on each side to be most effective.

  2. Stay supple between your shoulder blades: the thoracic spine (the region between the shoulder blades) can get very stiff with day to day activities such as computing, driving, and carrying a bag around. If a swimmer becomes stiff in their thoracic spine it will affect their streamline position and increase the load on their shoulders (due to compromised recovery & catch phases of the stroke).  Uncorrected stiffness in this region will often be the primary driver for the development of shoulder impingement.  I recommend all swimmers stretch over a half pilates foam roller for 5-10mins every day (watch HERE).

  3. Stretch and perform self -massage regularly: the key areas to target are the lats (wing muscles), and rotator cuff muscles (at the back of the shoulders). Using a little ‘massage device’ at home to do self -trigger point therapy can also be very useful. 5mins on each shoulder performed regularly will be ideal. Click through to learn the best swimmer trigger points.

  4. Get screened:  A swimming screening will provide you with a comprehensive look at all your key swimming measurements. Such as shoulder, spine, and hip range of motion. Following a screening a home program can be personally prescribed to help you to correct and improve your swimming machine.

  5. Get regular physiotherapy and massage: regular shoulder and body maintenance is a key part of any successful swimmer’s life. The shoulders need loosening as does the neck, upper and lower back, and hip muscles if a swimmer is going to swim fast and injury free.

Have fun, swim fast, and avoid those frustrating swimming injuries.


POGO Physio athlete Amy Levings


Brad Beer (APAM)

Physiotherapist, POGO Physio Founder, Author

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