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Improve Your Swim Stroke With Shoulder Mobility

Swimming is a sport that demands strength, endurance, and exceptional technique. In my opinion, the best swimmers move through the water efficiently without wasting unnecessary energy fighting against the water. Shoulder mobility plays a pivotal role in your performance and overall swimming economy. In this blog post, we'll explore why you need to incorporate regular shoulder mobility work into your training and how it can greatly benefit your performance in the water.

Swimmers rely heavily on their shoulders to propel themselves through the water. From the freestyle's fluid arm motion to the butterfly's powerful double arm stroke, the shoulder joint is involved in almost every aspect of swimming. This repetitive use can lead to strain and injury if you are not taking care of your joints. This is where shoulder mobility exercises come into play.

1.Injury Prevention

Swimming, like any sport, comes with its fair share of injury risks. I’ve seen many rotator cuff injuries over the years which is due to the constant overhead movement. Regular shoulder mobility exercises can help strengthen and stabilize the shoulder joint, reducing the risk of injuries such as rotator cuff tears, impingement, and tendinitis.

2.Improved Technique

Good shoulder mobility enhances your range of motion, allowing for smoother and more efficient strokes. With greater flexibility and strength in the shoulder girdle, you can achieve better arm extension and a more streamlined body position in the water. This, in turn, leads to improved stroke mechanics and increased speed.

3.Increased Power

Shoulder mobility exercises can also boost your power output while swimming. A well-mobilized shoulder joint enables you to generate more force during each swim stroke. This extra power can be the difference between a podium finish or a 4thplace finish in competitive swimming or triathlon.

4.Enhanced Recovery

Swimming can be tough on the shoulders, especially during intense training sessions. Incorporating shoulder mobility exercises into your routine can help alleviate tight muscles and soreness. Stretching and strengthening your shoulder muscles can expedite recovery and ensure you're always at your best when you hit the pool.

5.Posture and Body Alignment

Proper shoulder mobility exercises not only benefit your performance in the water but also contribute to your overall posture and body alignment. Good posture is crucial for swimming efficiency, and a well-balanced shoulder girdle can help maintain good alignment, reducing the risk of overuse injuries.

Recommended Shoulder Mobility Exercises

Now that we've emphasized the importance of shoulder mobility for swimmers, here are some effective exercises to incorporate into your training routine. Many of these I took from my PiYo and yoga practices. Most of these require no equipment, although bands are a great tool for mobility. Mobility doesn’t have to take up a lot of your time, 10-15 minutes at least 2-3X a week is beneficial.

Remember, consistency is key when it comes to shoulder mobility exercises. Incorporate them into your warm-up and cooldown routines and gradually increase the intensity as your shoulder mobility improves. It won’t be long before you will start to see improvements in your swim posture and technique!


In the world of swimming, shoulder mobility is a game-changer. Whether you're an elite athlete, experienced age grouper or beginner, regular shoulder mobility work can enhance your performance, reduce the risk of injuries, and contribute to an overall more enjoyable swim workout. So give your shoulders the attention they deserve, and you'll reap the rewards in the water.

Have you thought about hiring a coach for your next iron distance event? Click the purple box below and fill out the form for a FREE 15 minute call with me to discuss your race goals!

Mary Timoney

Ironman University Certified Coach

USA Cycling Coach

ACSM Trainer


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