Swim England

A nation swimming

Advice for your club's aquatic athletes while studying at home

During the coronavirus lockdown, most athletes are having to study from home due to schools, colleges and universities being closed.

While studying, it is important to think about your posture, as bad posture can impact on your return to the pool – no matter what discipline.

Physiotherapist, Lisa Sharratt, works with local and elite level swimmers and has also worked at the London 2012 Olympics and 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

As the Swim England North of England Zonal Physiotherapy Lead, Lisa has provided some do’s and don’ts which will affect your posture.


  • Lean over the desk – this can make your lower and middle back ache.
  • Poke your head forward – this can cause headaches and problems with your neck
  • Reach to the mouse and keyboard – this can cause the top of your shoulders to become tight.


  • Keep your feet flat on the floor
  • Uncross your legs
  • Lean back against the support from the chair
  • Stay close to your work.

How will this impact my performance?


A forward head position will affect your streamline and increase drag.

Thoracic spine flexion will again affect your streamline and will shorten your stroke length, increase lumbar spine extension and sheering.

Sitting for long periods will result in tight hip flexors which impacts your turns, streamline and low leg position during kick.


A forward head position will mean your head is out of alignment during entries. This prevents rip entries and potentially increases the impact on your neck and spine when entering the water.

Thoracic spine flexion will affect your take off and alter your entry position, especially on back and reverse skills.

Long periods sitting causes tight hip flexors which mean less propulsion and extension at take-off. This decreases height and could lead to dives being too far away or too close to the board. Alignment issues can also be caused by this as well as increased lumbar shearing.

Artistic swimming

A forward head position will affect your position and alignment in the water. General vertical line, barracuda thrusts and back layouts are significantly impacted by your head position. There is also an aesthetic concern.

Thoracic spine flexion can cause aesthetic concern for upright positions. It may mean less extension can be achieved through your thoracic spine, which is needed for positions in water such as splits and eggbeater.

Long periods sitting, resulting in tight hip flexors, can increase lumbar shearing and hip injury rates. This also has a negative impact on the hip range of motion which is crucial for several positions during routines and splits in the water.

Water polo

A forward head position can mean less combined extension for throwing power.

Thoracic spine flexion can cause poor rotation which also results in less throwing power.

Long periods sitting, which results in tight hip flexors, will increase lumbar shearing forces and increase hip injury rates.

What is thoracic spine flexion?

Your thoracic spine is located in the upper and middle part of your back. Twelve vertebrae are located in the thoracic spine and these are numbered from T-1 to T-12. To flex your thoracic spine means to bend or arch your upper and middle back.