A lack of flexibility can cause problems for swimmers. Tight muscles can be easily strained or prone to cramp when swimming and limited range of joint movement can inhibit performance. Working on flexibility is something you can do at home or in the gym.
As always, make sure there are no medical reasons why stretching could cause you problems, warm your muscles up thoroughly before stretching (by doing light physical activity), make sure your stretching environment is safe and stop if you feel any pain.
The three most common problem areas for swimming are:
Shoulder Flexibility for Swimming:
When swimming front crawl or backstroke, having a good range of movement at the shoulder enables you to pull a long, straight line, which is the most efficient. If your shoulder movement is limited, you may end up pulling short or snaking from side to side in the water.
Hip Flexibility for Swimming:
Ankle Flexibility for Swimming:
Good ankle flexibility is likely to make your kicking more efficient, flowing and powerful. Loose ankles can push the water in the optimal direction, whilst stiff ankles tend to push water straight up or down.
Yoga and swimming:
Yoga is an excellent complementary activity for swimming. Dedicating time to progress stretches in a guided and structured session can be extremely beneficial. Michelle Nicholls has a programme of progressive stretching through yoga that will improve your flexibility and in turn, improve your swim.