In some sports the “off season break” is a substantial amount of time, months even. Not so in swimming. A 2 week break in May and maybe a week in September. A few days at Christmas if you’re lucky. In these times you want a complete break from all things swimming. However it is VITAL for all you hyper mobile athletes (which is most of you ) to improve or at least maintain your stability work, especially scapular control and core strength
Every season at Physiohealth we see swimmers in the clinic the first week back with niggling shoulder soreness. They can’t understand why as they just came off a break. The reason is that during the break they did no scapular activation exercises and no swimming which gives significant activation of these muscles as well.
In hyper mobile ( flexible) athletes the ligaments are loose allowing for great range of movement. This is an advantage but means the only stability around the shoulder comes from muscle control. The scapular stabilisers and rotator cuff muscles are especially important. These muscles will often be the first ones to drop off during a rest break leaving the swimmer with a muscle imbalance once they return to the pool. The muscle imbalance can result in shoulder impingement and pain.
The take out message is all swimmers need to do some basic rehab exercises on their break. These will be the exercises they were given at their last screening by their physiotherapist; Scapular push-ups, band exercises, core work, foam roller etc. 15 minutes a day is all it will take to prevent an injury and make a good start to the following season.