Why All Swimmers Should Use Resistance Bands

Photo Courtesy: Sara McLarty

Bringing back this story by Dylan Evangelista, Swimming World College Intern.  Now is the time to focus on good form at home to translate to good form in the water…we shall return! 

Whether you’re a competitive athlete, or just looking for a way to stay active, swimming is a fantastic form of exercise as it increases overall body strength, and also improves your flexibility and endurance. Although there are many incredible benefits of swimming, there are some precautions that must be taken when spending a lot of time in the pool.

While it is undeniable that swimming can yield incredible physical results, it is an exceptionally vigorous form of exercise and often causes overuse injuries, and muscle imbalances.

Typical injuries with swimming usually deal with the shoulders or the knees, and one of the best ways to combat these issues is resistance band training. 

Whether it be swimmers shoulder or frozen shoulder, tendinitis, bursitis, or any injury for that matter, prevention and early treatment, addressing the impairments at hand is the key to managing and reducing the risk of injury.

Resistance bands are not only cheap, durable, and easy to travel with, but they can offer you a full body workout without any weights, which typically means a lower risk of injury.

Bands provide resistance to just about any motion, and can be especially helpful for mimicking the motions you make while in the pool.

They allow you to perform strength-training exercises in the way that they provide a force against which your muscles must work. This action has a very different impact on the way your muscles will contract, which stimulates bone as well as muscle growth.

Muscle imbalances in swimmers usually stem from the fact that swimming works all major muscle groups, but fails to work the smaller supportive muscle groups equally. Strengthening these supportive muscle groups is the best way to not only aid injury prevention, but improve stroke mechanics as well.

Musculoskeletal physiotherapist Alex Clarke has a long association with competitive swimming both as an athlete and as a coach. Clarke explained that,

“Swimmers often develop muscle imbalances where the adductors and internal rotators of the arm overdevelop, due to the repetitive nature of swimming. The average high school swimmer performs 1 to 2 million strokes annually with each arm! Unfortunately, this leaves a relative weakness of the external rotators and scapular stabilizers – simply because they don’t get used as much.”

All these factors begin to culminate causing irritation or an impingement.

Some beginning resistance band exercises that all swimmers should utilize are as follows:

Bicep Curl

    Photo Courtesy: Swim Outlet

Bicep curls are an excellent way to strengthen the bicep tendon and help your body compensate for the overdeveloped shoulder adductors often seen in swimmers. Swimmers shoulders are typically rolled forward from the constant forward motion exerted on them. Keeping your bicep tendons strong will help keep them in place and reduce rolled forward shoulders, therefore lowering the risk of a shoulder injury.

Perform this exercise slowly, inhaling during the eccentric contraction (where the muscle is lengthening) and exhaling during the concentric contraction (where the muscle is shortening). Start out with 3 sets of 20 reps (10 reps each side) and progress as you get stronger!

*NOTE: Keep this breathing pattern and repetition range consistent for all the exercises listed.

Internal Rotation

Photo Courtesy: Swim Outlet

When you work your shoulder’s internal rotators, you will feel the muscles on the front of your chest and shoulder contracting. Make sure the resistance band is taut, but not too strenuous. There are several ways to work your internal rotators but for a beginner the following method is the best starting point.

Stand with your arm lying at your side, then bend the arm forward to a 90 degree angle (as if you were doing a hammer curl). This postion is crucial as it is both your starting and ending point. Then proceed to pull the resistance band inward across your body, until it is gently touching your upper abdomen.

Slowly bring the arm back to that 90 degree angle creating positive tension on your rotators, but make sure not to go past that starting point!

External Rotation

Photo Courtesy: Swim Outlet

It’s easy to injure muscles and tendons near your rotator cuff due to the nature of swimming. When you work your shoulder external rotators, you will feel the muscles on the back of your shoulder and the top of your back contract.

Keep that same 90 degree start and finishing point that you have with internal rotation, but now pull the band outward across your body. When you externally rotate your shoulder, you turn your arm and hand away from the center of your body so that your palm faces away from your thigh.

Flaps for Lateral and Deltoid Muscles

Photo Courtesy: Swim Outlet

Your lateral and deltoid muscles are key muscles for swimmers. Grip the two ends of the band with both hands, holding it above your head with straight arms. Then proceed to pull downward while engaging your shoulders and keeping your arms straight.

This exercise should feel as if you are flapping your wings.

Resistance band exercises can do wonders for your bone, joint, and muscle strength. Just as you would with weight training, start off your resistance band training slowly with a lighter resistance band before progressing to a higher resistance level. Invest 10-15 minutes a day to resistance band exercises and you will feel the results both in and out of the pool!

All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff. All swimming and dryland training and instruction should be performed under the supervision of a qualified coach or instructor, and in circumstances that ensure the safety of participants.

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Jody Willmott Feucht
6 years ago

Tara Feucht

Stephanie Kring Dusza
6 years ago

Justin Dusza

Lynette Hines
6 years ago

Interersting advice..

Heather Malzahn Roff
6 years ago

Murron we have these

Sandra Rogers
6 years ago

Heidi Roche

Merry Burns
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Christina Hodder-Katz

Lin Tozer
6 years ago

Cameron Gillespie Finn Lyon

Ayman Al Soufi
6 years ago

Adam Soufi

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6 years ago

Roman Pinder

Karin Lloyd
6 years ago

Walter Mager

Candy Flynt Bearor
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Katelyn Bearor

Nancy Petrick
6 years ago

Riley Petrick

Raúl Bertadillo Mendoza

Pedro Morán

Hayley Schultz Harris
6 years ago

Tiesyn Harris

Irene Hisham
6 years ago

Edrin Rafael Walcott….Edwina Ed….

Jennifer Albeos Gaboya

Tp Gaboya

Morten Aurvig Lystlund Brøndum

But remember to write about how most swimmers end Up doing it wrong!

Amber Dawn Makovsky
6 years ago

Lilly Makovsky

Robert Jurkovic
6 years ago

Lucija Jurkovic

Sammie Lucie-Smith
6 years ago

John Gatfield

Carmen Ducks Rogans
6 years ago

Kate Christowitz

Đặng Phúc
6 years ago

Tuấn Ndm có dây mà khg chịu sử dụng đi nha

Tuấn Ndm
6 years ago
Reply to  Đặng Phúc

Giờ thầy mới đọc là thế nào 😛

Đặng Phúc
6 years ago
Reply to  Đặng Phúc

Tại vì biết tác dụng nó nên khg cần phải đọc nhiều :))

Tuấn Ndm
6 years ago
Reply to  Đặng Phúc

Đọc nó có giáo án tập đó thầy 🙂

Wendy Flack
6 years ago

Ryan Clayton

Georgios Kanaris
6 years ago

Tid Ting Nong Noi

Heba Mohamed
6 years ago

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4 years ago

Nick Irwin

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4 years ago

Sydnie Saddoris

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4 years ago

Julie Austin Brett Austin Cheryl Cichocki

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4 years ago

Chloe Tyler

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4 years ago

Ned Norton

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4 years ago

Josh Barila

Mack Jeff Tara
4 years ago

Austin Mack

Patsy Patterson Martin

Dang , I really need those, my birthday is coming up . those would be good. wine would be better.

Karen Humphreys Kachigan

Patsy Patterson Martin casswimshop.com

Swimming World
4 years ago

Just use the resistance bands before the wine.

Nicole Crook
4 years ago

Mitchell we could set some up on the fence…

Julie-Anne Warn
4 years ago

Fletcher Warn Kiera Mae

Jacque Smith Foshee
4 years ago

Sarah Stephen Foshee

David W Brown
4 years ago

Lisa Howson Niva :-))))))))

Jennifer Schott
4 years ago

Meg Ounsworth Steere

Emy Moreu
4 years ago

Adriel Soto

Neil Moxon
4 years ago

Taylor Moxon

Annette Jorgensen
4 years ago

Andrea Blake will be right. ?

Cynthia Oli
4 years ago

Nicole Forastieri

Sahtina Miller
4 years ago

Brad Miller we need to get some of these

Karen Humphreys Kachigan
Reply to  Sahtina Miller

Sahtina Miller casswimshop.com

Nancy Booth
4 years ago
Reply to  Sahtina Miller

Sahtina Miller thanks for the link

Maggie Howell
4 years ago

Oscar Howell

Tara Crittle
4 years ago

Sashi Wills

Thelred Ziegler
4 years ago

Jonathan Ziegler we should def get these

Karen Humphreys Kachigan

Thelred Ziegler casswimshop.com

Melissa Ward Green
4 years ago

Dylan Green

Margaret Frank-Koerwitz

Celeste Koerwitz

Angie Rodgers
4 years ago


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