Streamlining 101 - Part 2 (Mobility for Streamline)
In last week's post we looked at the streamline position; what it is and how important it is. This week the blog post stays with the streamlining theme, looking at how swimmers can get into a streamline position easily. Often the main barrier to a swimmer being able to get into streamline is their mobility. The series of stretches below should help develop mobility in key joints used when streamlining off the walls. Make sure to actively coach each stretch with your swimmers to ensure they are getting the maximum benefit from the stretch and executing it safely. Apologies in advance for the poor drawings below!
The two stretches we are highlighting here will help to mobilise the shoulder joint with internal rotation as well as through the posterior capsule.
Internal rotation sleeper stretch:
-Lie on your side
-Keep you elbow perpendicular to your shoulder
-Gently Push your hand closer to the floor (towards your feet)
-Keep it comfortable
Posterior Capsule Stretch:
- Lie on your back
- Bring 1 arm across the body and hold in place with the wrist of the other arm
- This stretch should be felt through the back of the shoulder
- This one was really hard to draw!!!
When the lats are tight they can inhibit an athlete reaching up into streamline. To loosen them off, the below dynamic stretch can help. Using a dynamic stretch here can help to maintain power within these muscles as they are also used to generate propulsion during swimming. Static stretching has been found to reduce power output.
4 point kneeling lat stretch:
- Enter a 4 point kneeling position
- Stretch 1 arm out in front of the body and lean down on it
- Move through the full range of motion here
Being able to keep the spine flat and in-line through the streamline can often be limited by thoracic mobility. A basic rotational stretch that can aid this is the side lying open up. There are multiple ways to do this as well as progressions. The basic level is shown below. This is also a good self-check stretch for an athlete to identify which side may need more work with mobility.
Side lying open up:
- Lie in the sleeper position, both arms out in front of the chest
- Slowly bring the top arm over the top of the body and open up the chest to the ceiling
- Follow the hand with your eyes
To enable the athlete to fully extend their body through streamline and not be hunched over requires the quadriceps to be mobile enough so they don't restrict this movement. There are lots of stretches for this, a great dynamic stretch that helps to maintain a level of power in the muscle post stretch can be seen below.
Kneeling hip thrusts:
- Kneel down with eyes forwards and hands on floor behind
- Gently move through from hips close to ankles --> raised hips
As highlighted above, being able to extend the body well in streamline is crucial. Another set of muscles that can limit this are the hip flexors (apart from the quads). Another basic dynamic stretch to help loosen these muscles is shown below.
- Enter a split squat position with knee on the floor
- Keep eyes forward and hands on hips
- Gently bring hips forward and feel the stretch in the hip flexors
Often forgotten about at the bottom of the body are the ankles. When overstretched as they can be in swimming, the ankles have an inflammatory response which can limit movement. Developing an increased natural range of movement within them can help prevent this. Below are two stretches that can help to increase plantar flexion ankle mobility. These are stretches that can directly improve performance as it has benefits not only for streamline but can increase the surface area of the foot during kick.
Split squat drop downs:
- Place one foot on a raised platform and drop into a split squat position and hold.
- Point the toes of the foot on the platform and stretch
Sitting on ankles stretch:
- Enter a dojo position (kneeling with feet under hips)
- Place weight back onto hips
- Elevate knees if needed to enhance the stretch
The above stretches are not an exhaustive list, but go some way to helping athletes become more mobile so they can attain a good streamline position. As mentioned in the introduction, stretching should be coached so to enable the athletes to maximise the benefits. A poor stretch can have less of an impact and perhaps even cause harm. If unsure of how to conduct a stretch always seek advice from an exercise professional. Hopefully you will find this article useful in developing mobility for streamlining, next week we finish up the streamlining 101 series with an article on developing stability within streamline.