There's room to be creative with this stretch. You can walk the hips away from the wall or experiment with your hand in different locations. To intensify the stretch, use the floor instead of the wall.
The key is to move the shoulder that's not being stretched down, and slowly lean the involved shoulder into the wall, floor or couch. (see step 4).
Side of the Torso Stretch: Lateral Bend
The side (lateral) muscles of the torso have a great deal of strength, power, endurance and elasticity. This natural elasticity adds power without increased mass.
This stretch will allow you to be more effective in the reaching part of your swim stroke and have more power on the recovery part.
- Stand with your feet hip-distance apart, knees slightly bent.
- Expand your chest, lift your ribs and raise both hands over your head.
- On exhale, pull your abdomen back and lean to the right.
- Hold this position and inhale into the ribs.
- As you exhale, pull abdomen back and lean to the left, hold, inhale into the ribs.
- Repeat this side-to-side motion to the right and left four to six times.
Move from one side to the other on an exhale, allowing for a deep inhale into the ribs. This will increase both extension and strength. Keep the chest slightly in front of the hips and rotate the top of the pelvic girdle back—this will elongate the lower-back muscles and stretch the lats.
Lateral bend is a great stretch to use after a hard workout because of its effect on the lower back.
To concentrate the effects of flexibility training, your breath should be long and smooth, and your mind should be focused on the area you want to effect. Easy, extended breathing like this will improve both performance and recovery. Race and train forever.