Pre Swim Shoulder Warm-Up

By Ashlyn Karosas

It is no secret that most swimmers have or have had on some level a shoulder injury. In fact, a 2010 study illustrated tha 91% of elite swimmers between the ages 13-25 have reported shoulder pain at least once in their careers. The excessive swim volume and constant shoulder rotation for hours a day and for several years causes wear and tear to the muscles and ligaments around the shoulder joint. Similarly, the deceleration our arm experiences from recovery to the start of our pull (just as it enters the water) creates a strong torque on the joint. To help prevent injury to the shoulder, warming up the whole shoulder girdle outside of the water is especially important. The following is a shoulder complex that you should do before every in-water workout.


First in the complex is an external/internal L movement. Bend your elbows at 90 degrees and close them together in front of you as if you were praying. Elbows, forearms and hands should all touch. Then open up into a goal post position. Repeat for 15-20 reps. Adding on to that, reach straight above your head and back through the whole motion (pray, goalpost, reach up, goalpost, pray). Again, repeat 15-20 times.


Next, we start in that same goalpost position but you will rotate forward to parallel with the floor and back up. Repeat for 15-20 repetitions. Your shoulders should be burning a bit at this point, if they aren’t, increase the repetitions.


Last is an external rotation movement. Place your elbows tight to your side, hands parallel with the ground and fists upward. Point your thumbs outwards and slowly rotate your forearms to the outside as far as your mobility will allow. Repeat 15-20 times.

Be responsible, stay healthy.