If you’ve been doing triathlon for a while, you’ll be familiar with swim drills but what you might not know is that one of them is contributing to your shoulder pain.
Shoulder pain happens when your tightness in the pecs, lats, and biceps combine to rotate the arm bone towards your body. This causes the rotator cuff to become long (which makes it fatigue easily) and the muscles around the front of the shoulder to get pinched when your arm goes overhead (like in front crawl).
The repetition of the stroke in swimming will be sufficient to cause a small amount of internal rotation of the arm bone by itself, but when you add this drill, it gets worse.
Which drill am I talking about?
You know the one – when you’re face down in the water, elbows wide and at shoulder height and you make small in and out movements with your hands.
Why is this so bad?
Firstly, you’re putting your body in a position that is perfect for creating tightness in the chest, back and arm area that I mentioned before. Then you’re adding tiny hand movements that makes those muscles in those areas work hard…in a very small range of movement.
Use of this drill will only serve to tighten the chest, round the shoulders and facilitate injury, not to mention the adverse effects of restricted breathing and increased neck tension!
A much more effective way to do this drill would be face up, with your arms down in the water. This would serve to open the chest out, instead of tightening more, leading to much greater power production in the swim.
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