Coach Cassie,  Top Tips

What strength exercises do you recommend for a delicate shoulder?

​Our resident Olympian answers your swimming questions​

I have a very delicate shoulder and I know that I need to start doing some strength training as I am planning on swimming Lake Zurich this summer. What strength exercises do you recommend and what is the optimum balance between pool and land based training?
Ali FitzGerald

Wow, Lake Zurich that’s a great swim! As someone who was plagued by injury my whole swimming career, I can completely sympathise with you. Without knowing exactly what is wrong with your shoulder it is quite tough to give you an exact strength and conditioning programme. You do not want to aggravate the injury, so if you are currently seeing a physiotherapist I would recommend you ask them for strengthening exercises that will benefit you and not cause any further damage or injury.

When I had an impingement of the bicep tendon, I used a stretch cord to give stability to the joint. There are different exercises you can do to target different areas of the shoulder. I also used to train my chest (pecs) and back (lats) muscles to make sure they were strong and able to assist in providing power to the stroke. I’m sorry I cannot be more help, but without a full diagnosis it is difficult to recommend a programme to help you specifically. A breakdown of different dry-side warm-ups and exercises can be found at

“Swimming was my whole life for over 20 years. I poured every ounce of enthusiasm into it. I am so fortunate to have found these new outlets for that enthusiasm.”

Cassie Patten won bronze in the first ever Olympic 10km marathon swim, in the Beijing 2008 Olympics. Cassie now coaches and is a frequent commentator at open water events.


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