High Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch With Thoracic Rotation
By Mike Mejia, M.S., C.S.C.S
Muscles Trained: Hip flexors and muscles around the thoracic spine.
Importance to Swimmers: By helping increase range of motion around the hips and the thoracic spine, this one simple drill is a great way to help guard against injuries. It will simultaneously free up hip flexors that are tight from doing too much flutter kick and lead to better stroking mechanics due to increased thoracic mobility.
Execution: Stand in front of an exercise bench, holding a broomstick. Begin by placing your left foot up on the bench so that your knee is bent about ninety degrees. With your left hand cupped over the top of the stick, hold the bottom third of the stick with your right hand. Keeping your torso up straight and tall, begin by gently driving your left knee forward on the bench- this will cause you to rise up slightly on to the ball of the right foot. As you do this, the amount of bend in the left knee will increase, resulting in a lengthening of the muscles in the front of your right hip.
At the same time, gently push on the stick as you bring your arm back behind you, making sure that the rotation comes from your upper back. In the end position your left arm should be well behind your torso, as you feel a stretch across your left pec and front shoulder. This combination of extension and rotation will really help mobilize the thoracic spine (middle part of the upper back). Do 8-10 repetitions and then switch sides.
The main thing to watch for with this drill is that you're not hyperextending the lower back. To do this, keep your core lightly braced and avoid allowing the hips to drive forward excessively.
The same holds true with the upper body component- you want to make sure that you're rotating through the thoracic spine and not getting the stick past your torso because you're arching your lower back.