The 11 Best Stretches For Swimmers

Do these before you dive in.



Swimming is a full-body sport with a lot of rotational movements, so it’s ideal to warm up your shoulders, core, and joints with dynamic stretches before hopping in the pool, says i-tri swim coach Samantha Rothberg.

Here, stretches for swimmers that’ll get you ready to paddle.


World’s Greatest Stretch

Rothberg recommends this move to mobilize your joints, warm up your lats, and get your heart rate up.

- Start in tall plank.

- Step right foot outside right hand.

- Lift right hand to sky, rotate torso.

- Hold 3 seconds.

- Repeat on left.

- Alternate 5x.


Thread The Needle

Rothberg also likes this to prep for a swimming sesh.

- On hands and knees, sit back on hips.

- Stick left arm under torso.

- Bring left shoulder to ground.

- Unthread left arm, rotate to reach left arm to sky.

- Look up at left hand. Hold.

- Do 5x per side.


Book Opener

Stretch expert Mara Kimowitz suggests this stretch for the shoulders and hips.

- Lie on side, knees bent 90 degrees, arms stacked in front of you.

- Raise top arm to ceiling, then back behind you to twist spine.

- Hold 15-30 seconds.

- Rotate back to start.

- Do 5x.

Getty Images/Charday Penn

Lunge With Trunk Rotation

StretchLab’s Austin Martinez says it’s key to stretch the core, glutes, and thighs.

- Stand feet together.

- Step left leg back.

- Plant foot, rotate upper body to right, away from reversed leg.

- Lift leg, return to start.

- Repeat on right, 10x each.


Neck Stretches

This sequence from Martinez warms up the neck so you’ll be able to turn your head with ease during each swim stroke.

- Bring chin to chest. Hold 20 seconds.

- Bring chin to chest, then tilt head back.

- Bring ear to shoulder. Hold 20 seconds. Switch sides.

Tempura/E+/Getty Images

Cross-Body Arm Swing

Trainer and national-level swimmer Olivier Poirier-Leroy suggests this move as part of a dynamic warm-up.

- Stand straight.

- Extend arms out.

- Swing arms forward. Cross arms front of you at chest.

- Swing arms as far back as they’ll go.

- Repeat 15-20 reps.

Westend61/Westend61/Getty Images

Lateral Overhead Swings

Poirier-Leroy says these prime the lats and triceps.

- Stand, arms at sides.

- Swing right arm around back of head. Touch left shoulder with right hand.

- At same time, left arm swings across front of body to right armpit.

- Do 20 reps per arm.


Hamstring Stretch

Trainer Matt Scarfo suggests this classic to wake up the legs.

- Step right foot forward, left foot under left hip.

- Keep right leg straight, slowly lower body down over front leg.

- Elevate leg for a deeper stretch.

- Hold 30 seconds.

- Repeat on left side.


Wall Press

Trainer Jake Dickson recommends this stretch before you dive into the pool.

- Face a wall.

- Place palms against it, arms straight.

- Rotate torso away from arm.

- Feel a stretch in chest and shoulders.

- Hold for 15 to 20 seconds.

- Repeat on the opposite side.

Getty Images/Image Source

Goal Post Squeeze

Dickson also likes this move to open the chest for a better swim stroke.

- Extend your arms in front of you.

- Bend elbows 90 degrees.

- Rotate arms open, squeeze shoulder blades together.

- Keep bend in elbows.

- Return to start.

- Repeat 10-15 reps.


Lat Stretch

Poirier-Leroy says the lats power your arms in the water, so try this one after swimming to cool down.

- With one hand, hold onto a sturdy object at head height.

- Bend at the hips and sit back to create a gentle pull on the lats.

- Hold for around 30 seconds per arm.