Shoulder Prehab and Rehab: Taking a Functional Approach

Shoulder Prehab and Rehab: Taking a Functional Approach to Training the Shoulder

                                                           By Grif Fig

Shoulder injuries are very common in swimming and prevent many swimmers from reaching their potential. Implementing a “shoulder prehab” program that has the correct exercises can greatly reduce the amount of injuries in the sport and ultimately would result in faster swimming. This article will discuss the concepts of taking a functional approach to training the shoulder and the exercises that are used to do so.


When looking at the upper body during swimming it is obvious that this requires repeated overhead motion. It has been established by many professionals that the shoulder is very vulnerable in this position.  Not only is the humerus creating a long lever when in flexion but this is also the pull phase of the stroke, which means a lot of torques is being created at the shoulder joint during this phase. From this we can gather the conclusion that one of the main goals of a shoulder “prehab” program is to increase strength and stability in the overhead position.


Even though this is obvious people are still using traditional methods that ask for us to strengthen the shoulder joint with the humerus at the side while isolating the external rotators. Isolating the rotator cuff and putting the humerus at the side of the body is not functional to having a strong shoulder in swimming.  The bottom line is that the shoulder should be trained were it is most often used in swimming, in the overhead position.

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