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  • Writer's pictureHelen

Strengthening shoulder exercises for swimmers

We regularly treat competitive swimmers for impingement and shoulder pain at

Choice Physio, and as competitive swimmers ourselves we understand that it can be

frustrating to have to rest from training when injury or pain occurs.

Injury can in certain cases be caused by muscle imbalance around the shoulder joint,

which then places more strain on certain muscles, tendons, ligaments and the joint.

Having balanced muscle function on both sides of the shoulder helps with reducing

the risk of injury, as well having a positive eect on swimming stroke and


We have therefore compiled four exercises that help to strengthen the muscles on

both sides of the shoulder, to achieve balanced muscular function around the joint.

The following exercises should only be performed if indicated by your swimming

coach and check with a GP or Physiotherapist rest if you have any current injury or

condition affecting the shoulder, as doing these when you already have an injury

could make it worse. These exercises are designed to be performed pain free.

1. Lie on your back on a mat or on a gym ball. Hold one arm out to the side at a 90

degree angle, with the elbow bent to 90 degrees and hand facing up towards the

ceiling. In this position, hold a theraband (attached to the wall behind you) and

stretch the band to push your hand forwards towards the oor (keeping the elbow in

the same position). Slowly let the forearm and hand return to the original position.

Repeat in a controlled manner for 3 sets of 10 repetitions on each arm.

2. Lie on your back on a mat or on a gym ball. Attach a theraband to an object or wall

near your feet, and hold the theraband in your hand. Position your elbow to 90 degrees

and with your hand facing the ceiling (as picture shows on the left below). Slowly allow

the hand to move towards the oor in the direction of the head and shoulders (keeping

the elbow in the same position), and then slowly return to the start position. Repeat 3

sets of 10 repetitions on both arms.

3. Standing upright, hold a theraband in both hands with your elbows tucked in close to

the body. Move your hands away from the body whilst keeping the elbows tucked close

to your side, and at the same time squeeze the shoulder blades together. Slowly relax theshoulder blades and allow the hands to slowly move back towards each other. Repeat 3 sets of 10 reps.

4. Attach a theraband to a wall in front of you, and hold on to the theraband with your

arms straight out in front of you. Slowly pull your arms back towards your body (bending

at the elbows), and squeeze your shoulder blades back together. Slowly return to the

start position, controlling the shoulder blade movement on the way back. Repeat 3 sets

of 10 repetitions.

If you are currently suffering with any shoulder pain / injury or muscle imbalance and

would like any help or advice, please feel free to call us on 01279 882518 and we would

be happy to help you! Alternatively, if you would like treatment for any shoulder pain or

injury, you are welcome to book an appointment online at

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