Pilates for Swimmers

Unfortunately swimmers are often going to experience problems relating to poor posture of the upper body (swayback posture) caused by overdeveloped rectus abdominus and oblique muscles. Some problems include over dominant latissimus dorsi muscles (in the back), shoulder joint impingements, tight pectorals, over dominant neck flexors or problems in thoracic flexion.  Muscle imbalances can occur at the knee joint due to over rotation or hyperextension of the legs.  Also, another area that suffers is the medial and external rotators in the shoulders and sometimes poor lumbar stability. I would like to recommend some general exercises to help with some of these postural problems on a daily basis.

The Star Fish – The purpose of this exercise is improve good movement and co-ordination patterns and skills.

Windmill Arms – This improves scapular stabilisation skills and mobilizes the shoulder girdle.

Shoulder Drops – This releases tension in the upper body.

Diamond Press – Brings awareness of the scapular (shoulderblades) moving on the ribcage, works muscles that stabilise the shoulder blades and works the deep neck flexors.  Also encourages length while extending the back.

The Dart – Strengthens back extensors and develops awareness of shoulder blades and works deep neck flexors.

The Star – To learn how to work from a strong stable centre and to work gluteal (bottom muscles) and upper back muscles.  Safe extension of legs.

The Table Top  – Stabilises centre muscles while moving the limbs, whilst maintaining neutral and length in the trunk.  Develops balancing skills and control.  Improves pelvic stability and works deep gluteals.

Threading the Needle – Helps to relax upper back muscles especially in the shoulder girdle.

Rest Position or Childs Pose – Lengthens and stretches out sacral, lumbar, middle and upper spine.  Maximises the use of the lungs, by taking the breathe into the back.

The Hundred – This exercise will help to stabilise the shoulder blades whilst building strength in the pectorals and abdominals.

Single Leg Stretch – This will improve strength in the abdominals and deep neck flexors, help towards the skills of co-ordinating breathing with movement whilst increasing stamina and strengthen the leg muscles.

The Tricep Stretch – Help to stretch the small muscles in the back of the arm, often dominant in swimmers, but also opens the chest to enjoy lateral breathing.

Arm Openings – This also opens the upper body to stretch tight pectoral muscles in the chest and stabilises shoulder blades.  Achieves a sense of openness whilst stabilising and centring.  It also rotates the spine gently and safely.

Chalk Circles – This will open the upper body and sides, stretches pectorals, and rotates the spine.  Teaches a strong centre whilst stabilising the pelvis.

Try to perform some of these exercises daily to improve your posture and to strength your centre muscles. While it is possible to view ‘You Tube’ videos and other literature about Pilates exercises nothing beats working with an experienced teacher and coach.