Swimmers Shoulder Injury Prevention: Band Pulls (Video)

Band pull rotator cuff exercise for swimmers shoulder
Photo Courtesy: G. John Mullen/COR

By Dr. G. John Mullen

Rotator cuff strengthening is an important aspect of shoulder injury prevention. I’ve written about activating the posterior rotator cuff muscles, while not overemphasizing strengthening the rotator cuff muscles. Once again, activation and strength of the posterior rotator cuff is important for swimmers, but not the only factor and not even the most important factor for everyone. Nonetheless, having safe and challenging posterior rotator cuff strengthening exercises is key for swimmers shoulder prevention program.

The posterior rotator cuff (the infraspinatus and teres minor) muscles endure high stress in swimming. Each time an athlete performs an early vertical forearm, these muscles are rapidly stretched and broken down. Combine this stress with the estimated volume of 1 million arm strokes through a swimming season and you’ve undoubtedly created a risk of shoulder injury. The band pull strengthens the posterior rotator cuff in a safe position (arms next to one side) and can help restore damaged rotator cuff muscles by overemphasizing the eccentric phase of the movement.

Rotator cuff muscles


Hold a band in your hands and, while keeping your elbows at your sides, move your shoulders down and back, then perform an “I don’t know” motion, pulling the band apart, moving specifically from the glenohumeral joint (shoulder joint). Slowly return the band over a count of approximately three. If performing to fatigue or with heavy resistance, perform this exercise after practice in combination with other prevention exercises.

For more on the shoulder, consider purchasing the COR Swimmer’s Shoulder System.

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Emmanuelle Michel
9 years ago

Cherie, a new exercise for you…

Susan Perez-May
9 years ago

Carson may

Katrina Aragon Holck
9 years ago

My daughter does this exercise. It helps her!

Joshua Munro
9 years ago

Zane Rademaker

9 years ago

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9 years ago

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9 years ago

Michele Mihelich Maras

Michele Mihelich Maras
Reply to  Sarah Withey

Thanks Sarah Withey

Sandra Shaw
9 years ago

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