How to Avoid Swimmer's Shoulder

How to Avoid Swimmer's Shoulder

Whether it’s at the beach or in a pool, swimming can provide solid cardio with amazing benefits. Millions of people in the US every year enjoy swimming, especially in the peak of summer. Not only is it an effective exercise for weight loss, but it’s also a well-established form of physical therapy for those recovering from injuries. Swimming is also the perfect low-impact exercise for people with arthritis or osteoporosis, as the water’s buoyancy takes pressure off the joints.
Although swimming offers many health benefits and is often considered the perfect exercise, it can result in shoulder injuries if you dive in carelessly. One of the most common injuries associated with the sport is shoulder tendonitis, also known as Swimmer’s Shoulder.
In this article, we’ll give you some helpful tips to fully enjoy the many benefits of swimming, while minimizing the risk of Swimmer’s Shoulder and other shoulder injuries.

What is Swimmer’s Shoulder?

Swimmer’s Shoulder is often the result of overused shoulder muscles, causing the rotator cuffs to rub against the shoulder blade and become irritated. This irritation can cause inflammation, weakness, stiffness, and shoulder pain.  This may occur when a swimmer trains too hard without giving the muscles enough time to rest in between activity. Improper technique, as well as limited flexibility or shoulder strength, may also increase your risk of developing the condition.
While extremely common, there are some simple ways to significantly reduce your risk of developing Swimmer’s Shoulder.

Easy Ways to Prevent Swimmer’s Shoulder

Never Skip a Warm-Up

Don’t underestimate the importance of a good warm-up routine. Warming up before any workout improves your mobility and flexibility while preparing your body for the strenuous activity. If the water is cold, a good warm-up is vital to balancing your body temperature and keeping your muscles from becoming too rigid. Fortunately, there are many effective warm-up routines for both in and out of the water. We recommend this site for some great swimming-specific warm-up exercises.

Evaluate Your Posture and Technique

Better posture, both in and out of the pool, can reduce your chances of getting Swimmer’s Shoulder. With poor posture, your body’s mobility and strength are reduced. Not only does this increase your risk of sustaining an injury, but it also dramatically reduces your swim speed and power.
One of the best ways to aid technique and improve your overall posture is to stretch, stabilize, and strengthen your shoulder muscles. Your shoulders will become more flexible and stronger over time and will build up greater resistance to damage from repeated use.  If you feel shoulder pain while swimming, these helpful exercises will reduce the pain and help you avoid a potential shoulder injury.

Loosen Up with a Foam Roller

If your muscles are feeling sore and tense after swimming, it may be time to do some foam rolling exercises. Foam rollers can facilitate self-myofascial release, ease tension and stiffness in your joints, and improve your range of motion.
For swimmers, foam rolling exercises that target the shoulders and thoracic spine are recommended. You can improve both your spine and your shoulders with this one simple stretch called Thread the Needle.

How to “Thread the Needle”:

  1. Start in a four-point position with hands directly under the shoulders and the knees under the hips.
  2. Have the foam roller lying vertically next to you.
  3. Keep your chin in, back straight, and shoulders back.
  4. With one arm, reach under the other onto the foam roller, palm up, and roll the arm and shoulder through.
  5. Hold the stretch at the bottom position for 2-3 seconds.
  6. Return to the center and raise the arm up and back to open your chest.
  7. Hold the stretch at the top position for 2-3 seconds, then bring the arm back down, repeating 5 times, then switch to the other side.

Don’t Let Swimmer’s Shoulder Slow You Down

Swimmer’s Shoulder is a common and irritating injury. If left unchecked, it can hinder both your swim performance and your quality of life. If you’re still suffering from shoulder pain despite making these adjustments to your swim routine, schedule an appointment with Airrosti. Most shoulder injuries, including Swimmer’s Shoulder, can be resolved in as few as 3 visits (based on patient-reported outcomes).
Read our Medical Disclaimer here.

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