Swimming is a highly repetitive sport, and it is common for swimmers to develop shoulder and back problems due to poor mechanics.

Here are some tips to get the most efficient swim possible.

1. Breathing Mechanics

At least 80% of the time, you should practise bilateral breathing, meaning that you are breathing both to the left and to the right equally. This can mean switching left to right during a lap or doing one lap to the right and the next to the left. Why? Breathing to only one side causes poor neck rotation, which in turn causes your recovering arm to cross over the midline of the body, which will pull you off course.

2. Hand Entry Into The Water

When your hand is going into the water during a stroke, your finger tips should be the first part to hit the water. Avoid having your thumb hit the water first. Doing this causes excessive internal rotation of the shoulder, which over time will lead to shoulder injury.

3. Posture

Have a desk job that’s got you stuck at a computer all day? This can effect your swimming and lead to injury. Most of what we do during the day requires our arms in front of us, which shortens the chest muscles. This pulls your shoulders forward which causes impingement of the rotator cuff tendons during your stroke. Practice doing pectoralis stretches and focus on keeping your shoulders back to limit bad posture.

4. Body Rotation

As you prepare to do the next stroke, you should be doing body roll/rotation. This means that your shoulder, chest and hips roll as one to allow your shoulder to easily pass into the next stroke. If we do not rotate as we swim it puts massive stress on the rotator cuff muscles as we try to clear the water to bring the arm back in front of us again.

5. Finish The Stroke

As you pull your arm through the water, be careful not to end the stroke too quickly. Many swimmers tend to end the stroke at their waist as they tire, while they should be pulling to the upper thigh. Ending your stroke early causes you to have to do more strokes during a lap causing fatigue.

6. Too Much Elbow

A mistake many swimmers make is to pull with their elbow as the arm travels back through the water. This causes your shoulder muscles to load excessively.  Proper  mechanics will really help you activate more powerful muscle groups of your chest and upper back.