Pre-Swim Stretches, Post-Swim Ease

By Elizabeth Marglin

Before jumping in the pool, warm up to prevent cramps and reduce your likelihood of injury. “Stretching heightens joint mobility,” says Dave Scott, six-time Ironman winner and fitness consultant. When you stretch, the muscle fibers lengthen, allowing for more contraction force (also known as power in the water). Efficient swimming demands supple twisting and bending with each stroke. Here are Scott’s favorite swim warm-ups to make life in the lap lane flow:

Side stretch
Stand with your right foot directly behind and in line with your left. Raise your right elbow so that it points to the ceiling. Extend your left arm down and reach for the floor. Keep your head neutral and your hips facing forward. Hold for several breaths, and then repeat on the other side.

Shoulder opener
Kneel down with your right thigh flush against the wall. Raise your right arm over your head, keeping your palm against the wall. Slowly, using your breath, move your right arm back so that you can feel your armpit and shoulder opening.