Summer is the perfect time for improving flexibility. Throughout the next few weeks, we’ll be focusing on a few key areas in the body where synchronized swimmers could often use a little extra stretching.

 

We’ll start with the big one: splits! Every synchro swimmer wants flat splits in the water. The key is to first get your splits flat on land and then build your strength. The stretches below focus on the hamstrings, hips and quadriceps. Use our “Ramp it Up!” cues if you need a greater stretch and our “Tone it Down!” cues to lower the intensity of the stretch. Remember to stretch within your limits!

 

Inchworm

Muscles Targeted: Hamstrings

 

  • Stand with your feet close together. Keeping your legs straight, stretch down and put your hands on the floor directly in front of you. This will be your starting position.
  • Begin by walking your hands forward slowly, alternating your left and your right. As you do so, bend only at the hip, keeping your legs straight.
  • Keep going until your body is parallel to the ground in a pushup position.
  • Now, keep your hands in place and slowly take short steps with your feet, moving only a few inches at a time.
  • Continue walking until your feet are by hour hands, keeping your legs straight as you do so.
  • Ramp it Up: Slow down
  • Tone it Down: Bend your knees slightly
  • Click here for a video tutorial

 

Reclined Hamstring Stretch

Muscles Targeted: Hamstrings

  • Lie on your back with one leg extended above you, with the hip at ninety degrees. Keep the other leg flat on the floor.
  • Loop a belt, band, or rope over the ball of your foot. This will be your starting position.
  • Pull on the belt to create tension in the calves and hamstrings. Hold this stretch for 10-30 seconds, and repeat with the other leg.
  • Focus on keeping your hips square and on the ground
  • Ramp it Up: Have a partner gently push your top leg closer to the floor
  • Tone it Down: Bend your bottom leg
  • Click here for a video tutorial

 

Iron Cross

Muscles Targeted: Quadriceps and hip flexors

  • Lie face down on the floor, with your arms extended out to your side, palms pressed to the floor. This will be your starting position.
  • To begin, flex one knee and bring that leg across the back of your body, attempting to touch it to the ground near the opposite hand.
  • Promptly return the leg to the starting position, and quickly repeat with the other leg. Continue alternating for 10-20 repetitions.
  • Ramp it Up: Touch your foot to your opposite hand, or above
  • Tone it Down: Slow down the movement and only reach to where you’re comfortable
  • Click here for a video tutorial

 

Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch

Muscles Targeted: Quadriceps and hip flexors

  • Kneel on a mat and bring your right knee up so the bottom of your foot is on the floor and extend your left leg out behind you so the top of your foot is on the floor.
  • Shift your weight forward until you feel a stretch in your hip. Hold for 15-30 seconds, then repeat for your other side.
  • Ramp it Up: Bend up your back leg and hold your foot in your hand
  • Tone it Down: Bring your legs closer together and ease off the degree you’re pushing your hips through
  • Click here for a video tutorial

 

Groin Jump

Muscles Targeted: Adductors

  • Begin in a pushup position on the floor. This will be your starting position.
  • Using both legs, jump forward landing with your feet next to your hands. Keep your head up as you do so.
  • Return to the starting position and immediately repeat the movement, continuing for 10-20 repetitions.
  • Ramp it Up: Pause longer in the end position
  • Tone it Down: Step into the squat position
  • Click here for a video tutorial

 

Groin and Back Stretch

Muscles Targeted: Adductors and lower back

  • Sit on the floor with your knees bent and feet together.
  • Interlock your fingers behind your head. This will be your starting position.
  • Curl downwards, bringing your elbows to the inside of your thighs. After a brief pause, return to the starting position with your head up and your back straight. Repeat for 10-20 repetitions.
  • Ramp it Up: Sit on a block or a book
  • Tone it Down: Place hands beside you and use them for support
  • Click here for a video tutorial

 

Splits

Muscles Targeted: Quadriceps, hip flexors, hamstrings, adductors

  • The best stretch for splits is splits itself! Warm up your muscles and hold each stretch–left leg, right leg and middles–for one minute.
  • Ramp it Up: Add books, flutter boards or chairs under your feet
  • Tone it Down: Use your arms for support on blocks or books, but remember to keep your hips square and your shoulders over your hips

 

For further stretching ideas, or to create a stretching program specifically for your body, ask your coach, trainer or doctor.

 

Please note these are general stretches and not meant to replace the advice of your doctor, trainer or coach.