Stretching plays an important role in adequately preparing the swimmer for competition. Most, if not all, swimmers engage in some pre-warm up stretching routine before swimming. The actual effect of stretching from a physiological standpoint is not clear but it does seem to help swimmers fend off the feeling of "tightening up", especially during an intensive training session.

A stretching routine can help increase the swimmers range of motion. There are several different types of stretching our swimmers perform regularly.

  1. Ballistic - uses the momentum of a moving body or a limb in an attempt to force it beyond its normal range of motion.
  2. Dynamic – movement specific. Involves moving parts of your body and gradually increasing reach, speed of movement, or both.
  3. Static - involves holding a position. That is, you stretch to the farthest point and hold the stretch.
  4. PNF – Partner stretching


Stretching Guidelines

Stretching is performed under the following guidelines for optimal benefits:

  • Do not perform any stretching activities that results a great amount of pain.
  • Perform only swimmer directed activities that contribute to the swimmers range of motion in the pool.
  • Do no exercises that bounce or force a joint beyond a natural range of movement (the voluntary stretching limit).
  • Only use a partner for stretching activities if the partner is knowledgeable about and adheres to the correct execution of PNF stretching.
  • Never stretch a cold muscle.
  • Stretch after practice or competition for greatest stretch magnitude
  • Slow stretching should follow a physical warm-up but precede any skill and intensity specific activities. [PNF stretching has been shown consistently to be the only protocol that produces beneficial effects. Coaches should be wary of individuals promoting any other form of stretching.]
  • No stretched position should be held other than in the PNF procedure.
  • Once specific race preparations begin after warm-up, no further formal and deliberate stretching should be performed. The stretching of soft tissues should be achieved through swimmer-directed activities that are performed to meet the particular needs of the moment.
  • If any stretching produces pain or DOMS that keeps returning after each stretching session, cease the stretching activities.