Swimming freestyle long and frequently as in Open water you put a very big stress on pectoralis major – the breast muscles. The muscles on front side get too strong compared to the antagonist muscles that help your shoulder to stay in the right position.
Daily work at a desk using your computer and car driving the shoulders also makes you push the shoulders even more forward. The ageing process makes it worse too.
All this can result in a really bad injury like swimmers shoulder, impinged nerves or a bursitis in the shoulder area – the latter is extremely painful. An impinged nerve can stop you from swimming for months even if it isn´t that painful.
To manage without injuries you should do regular exercises strengthening the backward rotation muscles & tendons in the shoulders. It is the ones keeping your shoulder blade in the right position. Most of these muscles are nothing you train at your ordinary routine at the gym, cross fit or body pump class. You need to add specific excersices
Note! Stretching isn´t enough to compensate the forward rotation – you need to build up just as much “strength” at the backside as at the front side to keep your shoulder in the right position.
There is another really nice side effect of having the right posture – you reach longer in your strokes while swimming.
Gym guy describing more and showing some excersices
(you get the same problem by too much bench press)
The rotation exercise he does with a cable cross can easily be done with a cheap rubber band.
A simple good exercise is rowing standing upright with a cable machine or rubber band.
Focus on keeping shoulder blades tight together.
The sitting type of rowing machine tend to make you stretch too much forward then losing the right posture. So do not over stretch the forward motion. Keep shoulder blades together even when arms are stretched out.
The background mechanism in this post is too much bench press – the fix is right any how.
Go to the title THE ROTATOR CUFF and ROTATOR CUFF TRAINING.
Equipment and frequency
You do not need a gym to do these exercises. Most of them you can do with a simple rubber band with or without handles.
- the wide orange rubber band in the image below tend however to be too short to manage full motion.
- the grey rubber band with blue grip is excellent
- the cable cross machine can do but I do prefer rubber band since they put more load into end point and it is easier to work on the way back too.
It’s when you are resting the muscles grown. Do the exercises about 3 times per week and the load should make you manage 20-25 repetitions three times.
Do not just drop the load at end point – work on the way back too.