Recently I was invited to a presentation by Matt Rose, a former Canadian Olympic swimmer who is now a physiotherapist in Victoria. With experience both as an athlete and a therapist, Rose had a unique perspective on “prehabilitation.” Prehabilitation focuses on strengthening supporting muscles to facilitate proper biomechanics to avoid injury. In swimming we are constantly rotating the shoulder joint, which puts stress on the muscles of the rotator cuff. The rotator cuff is made of four small muscles: the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor and subscapularis. Focused work on these muscles is more effective for maintaining shoulder health than weights for the larger prime mover muscles in the shoulders, since most triathletes’ limitation is not brute strength, but correct motor patterns.
Rose’s shoulder prehabilitation series does not take an overwhelming amount of time. With a daily core routine, the exercises allow you to prevent a future injury and might even improve your posture, leading to holding water more effectively and improving your swim stroke.
All the exercises on this page can be done with either rubber tubing or resistance bands. Attach one end of the tubing to a door or fixed object so that the band will be at approximately waist height.
Stand with your back to the anchor point, the tubing in one hand out at a right angle. Push your arm straight our from your body. When extended, trace an “L” shape slowly and return to start.
Form tip: Keep shoulder blades low and tight to the back of your spine.
Reps: 12-20 times per side