Skip links

Swimmers mobility and strength


Dear swimmers, are you finding it hard to improve your lap times, or simply feeling like there’s a restriction around the full rotation during your strokes?

A tired or weak thoracic area might be to blame?

Our personal trainer Monika Sikora takes us through her five favourite exercises to tackle both mobility and strength of your thoracic area, to get you where you need to be way sooner.


Exercise 1: shoulder and thoracic extension

A great place to start is to add a shoulder flection to a thoracic extension. As you lay on a foam roller, just on that thoracic spine area, you bring in your arms all the way above your head, pausing there, and gently lowering it down. Make sure you keep your neck neutral to avoid any strains.


Exercise 2: retractions

You might be thinking that rollers are only good for extensions, or release. Well, think again. Retractions are fantastic for your scapular strength and stability, and are a crucial part of any swimmer’s weekly routine. Lie on your front with your forearms on a foam roller, retract your shoulders pulling the foam roller into your body. Just make sure you perform it with a full control, and as always, keep your neck neutral to avoid any strains.


Exercise 3: thoracic rotations

You will be forgiven for thinking we forgot about thoracic rotations. Of course not. This is to be performed kneeling down in a seated position, that way, you’re not tempted to use your lower back and pelvis to twist, and you’re forced to use your thoracic area. One hand on your head with a bent elbow, and the opposite arm supporting you, twist the bent elbow down to the floor, then up to the ceiling. For added stability, press the forearm that’s on the floor heavily into the ground as you’re lifting your opposite side elbow.


Exercise 4: chest drops to a see-saw in a plank

This one will take time to build up both strength and endurance to perform it correctly. But whilst you master it, it will be really amazing and give you some great results. Start in a plank position, lower yourself to the floor, come back up into a plank then shift your body weight through your arms forwards and backwards, keeping in a plank position. Make sure that the movement comes from the top of your body, not the hips. The hips are fully controlled by your core, and you’re balancing through the scapulas, and your toes.


Exercise 5: front and back rotations in back extension

And finally, one of the hardest ones to perform correctly. Lying on your front, come up into back extension and hold, then bring your arms forward and backwards mimicking a butterfly stroke. Now, this movement tends to be easier if you use an object like a Swiss ball, or edge of your sofa to increase the space between yourself and the floor. To challenge yourself, do not use the added benefit of that space. Make sure you’re in that awkward position, and work through the full strength and rotation of your scapulas


I am a swimmer and think this could really help me…

If you are a swimmer and struggle with your mobility and strength, give these exercises a go. If you find you need a bit more help visit our team here.



If this article and video resonated with you then…

This article was written by our team of specialist therapists at Perfect Balance Clinic. If you would like more specific advice about how our team can help you with this condition or symptoms you may be having, please complete the contact form below and one of the team will get back to you shortly.

    Return to top of page