Physio FIT | The three tests every swimmer can do at home to remain pain free in the water
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The three tests every swimmer can do at home to remain pain free in the water

The three tests every swimmer can do at home to remain pain free in the water

Do you suffer shoulder, back or neck pain in the pool?

Do you wish you knew why?

Every swimmer should read this article – it could make a big difference for you!

If you suffer pain in the pool it’s not your fault (or your coach’s fault).  90% of competitive swimmers will suffer swimming related pain at some stage – mostly it will be shoulder pain.

If left untreated and the pain is simply accepted as part of swimming then it often worsens, requires longer periods out of training, leads to frustration at the lack of progression and after a while swimmers quit the pool to find another sport.

When you get the right advice from someone who thoroughly understands swimming and knows what to look for in elite swimmers then things can be very different.  The right physio can teach you what to look for yourself on a day to day basis to ensure that you stay ahead of pain.  This leads to reduced frustration, for you and your coach, and smooth progression in the pool to enable you to swim at your best all year round.

“Too often swimmers accept pain in the pool as a ‘normal’.  This does not need to be the case – you can swim pain free.  Knowing the warning signs can keep you pain free and enable you complete all sessions every week”

If you’ve ever wanted to know the tests that physiotherapists use to predict those at risk in the pool then keep reading and we’ll tell you the three self tests swimming physios use daily and what they mean for you.

These three tests are used by Swimming Australia on a regular basis on elite swimmers to identify when things aren’t as they should be.  The best thing about these tests is that you can perform them at home and chart your own progress to identify when you are at risk of developing pain and missing sessions in the pool.

  1. ABIR
  • To perform this test stand with your back against the wall
  • Have your elbows touching the wall and your forearms parallel with the floor
  • Keeping your forearms parallel with the floor, lift your arms as high as they will go
  • Take note of how high you can leave your elbows was keeping them on the wall
  • This is important measure of flexibility through the shoulders in the ‘catch’ position


  1. Combined Extension
  • Lie down on your front with your chin in contact with the floor or bed
  • Extend your arms above your head in to streamline position
  • Keeping your elbows straight in your chin on the floor lift your hands as high as they will go
  • This is an important measure of flexibility in the streamlined position


  1. The Thomas Test
  • Sit on the edge of the bench
  • My back pulling one knee eat into your chest
  • Taking notes of what the opposite leg is doing and where the knee sits in relation to the hip
  • This test is important measure of the flexibility at your hips which is particularly important in kick


If you perform these three tests regularly you will get an understanding of what your baseline flexibility is. You can then check your progress to identify when things aren’t as they should be.  If areas are left tight and you have abnormal test results this is your indicator that pain is just around the corner. It is important if you find an abnormal result that you work hard on the affected area or you seek some advice in terms of the best exercises for you to improve your test result.

Want more – book a swimming assessment today…

If you are a competitive swimmer any of this relates to you or you want some further help then you will be pleased to know that we offer a comprehensive swimming assessment.  Our assessment includes these three tests and many more related to swimming.  In the assessment we record your results and write you a detailed report on the areas that you need to focus on. We also give you a comprehensive overview of the exercises you need to perform out of the pool to be at your best in the water.

Book you swimming assessment online or call us on 5528 6000.