A quick guide to stretching and warming up

Before you start a swimming session or workout, you need to know your body is ready for the challenges ahead. Here is our quick guide to stretching to help you actively warm up before exercising.

By properly preparing your body for exercise you are increasing your flexibility – which increases your efficiency in the water if you are swimming – and helps reduce any subsequent muscle soreness from working out.

Tips for stretching and warming up

An exercise like swimming is an all-body workout, so try to stretch all of the major muscle groups before you swim. Here are some general tips about stretching and warming up:

  1. Stretch each body part in order. Hold stretches for 10 to 15 seconds. Run through this routine three times.
  2. Stretching cold muscles may relieve tension but will have very little effect on flexibility. Gently swim or briskly walk for five minutes before stretching.
  3. If you’re stretching in the water, your body will cool down rapidly so maintain your temperature by walking, jogging on the spot or swinging your arms or legs for 20 seconds between each stretch.
  4. Stretch after training. Try doing this in a warm shower, holding each stretch for 30 – 40 seconds to help clear waste products from the muscles, improve post-exercise flexibility and stimulate the muscle receptors that promote relaxation.
  5. After your stretching routine continue to warm-up
  6. If water or air temperature is cold, it’s going to take longer to warm-up, so take that into account.
  7. Swimming may be fantastic exercise for your joints in a weightless environment but bursting into ten lengths of butterfly isn’t going to do your shoulders any favours. Concentrate on relaxing your joints and gliding through the water as you warm-up.
  8. Pulse rate. By warming-up you are avoiding any oxygen deficit or pre-training tiredness but don’t take it too easy! You need to be gradually raising your pulse to ensure the warm-up effects are maintained.