Every swimmer needs a strong, flexible back to flow effectively through the water, according to Nick Folker, strength and conditioning coach at the University of California. “You need back flexibility because you’re always horizontal, which puts a lot of pressure on your spine,” he says. “An inflexible back affects other body parts, because it’s like a bridge between your lower and upper extremities.”
Here, Folker talks about the Golden Bears’ foam roller work, which loosens up and stretches out their backs. They perform it before and after every workout.
• Lie on back on floor
• Place foam roller between low back and floor
• Slightly bend knees; place feet flat on floor and hands on ground for support
• Foam roll from lower back up to neck for three minutes
• Rest 1 minute. Repeat pattern 2 more times
Adaptation: Once you’re comfortable with this, perform with your hands resting across your chest to give you a larger range of motion.
Don’t hold any tension in your body; be as comfortable as possible // Keep your spine as straight as possible // Keep your head and eyes focused on the sky or ceiling