How to Avoid Swimmer’s Shoulder

How to Prevent Swimmer's Shoulder

Although swimming offers many health benefits and is often considered the perfect low-impact exercise, it can still leave you with pain if you dive in carelessly. One of the most common injuries associated with swimming is shoulder tendonitis, also known as swimmer’s shoulder.

Swimming is not just an effective exercise for weight loss. It’s also a well-established form of physical therapy for those recovering from injuries or suffering from arthritis, since the water’s buoyancy relieves pressure from joints.

Below are a few tips to help you enjoy the many benefits of swimming, while minimizing the risk of swimmer’s shoulder and other common shoulder injuries.

What is Swimmer’s Shoulder?

Swimmer’s shoulder, or shoulder tendonitis, develops when shoulder muscles and the rotator cuff joint are overused. After repetitive motion, the overworked joints become irritated, leading to symptoms like 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.

3 Ways to Prevent Swimmer’s Shoulder

While this injury is extremely common, it can severely limit your range of motion and ability to swim. Fortunately, there are a few simple steps you can take to significantly reduce your risk of developing 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, your muscles may start to feel rigid, reducing range of motion and making movement difficult. Muscle stiffness is not only uncomfortable, it can also lead to serious injuries if you’re not careful. A good warm-up is the key to balancing your body temperature and keeping your body flexible.

Evaluate Your Posture and Technique

Poor posture leads to reduced mobility and strength, especially in the upper body. Not only does this increase your risk of sustaining an injury, but it also dramatically reduces your swim speed and power. Better posture, both in and out of the pool, can reduce your chances of getting swimmer’s shoulder.

You can improve your posture by stretching, stabilizing, and strengthening your shoulder muscles. With these helpful exercises, your shoulders will become stronger and more flexible over time.

Loosen Up with a Foam Roller

If your shoulders are feeling stiff and sore, try using a foam roller to loosen up. Foam rollers can facilitate self-myofascial release, alleviate muscle tension, and knock out any nasty knots that might be lingering in your shoulders.

Range of Motion Exercise: Arm Openers

Good thoracic mobility can improve the range of motion of many shoulder movements required for swimming. Try adding arm-opener exercises to your routine to stretch your upper body and improve shoulder mobility.

*DISCLAIMER: Always consult with your doctor before starting any exercise program. If you experience any numbness, tingling, or reproduction of your symptoms, please contact your doctor.

  • Lay on your side with your hips and knees flexed, head supported, and arms extended in front of you with your hands together.
  • Protract your shoulder blade by reaching forward with your top hand.
  • Retract back and slowly lift your arm and rotate your trunk to reach the ground on the opposite side.
  • Look at your fingertips during the entire movement to make sure you’re rotating your spine and not just moving your arm.
  • Come back to the starting position and repeat.
  • Your lower back, hips, and legs should remain still during this exercise.
  • Complete 2 sets of 10 repetitions on each side.

Don’t Let Swimmer’s Shoulder Slow You Down

Painful shoulder injuries like swimmer’s shoulder can hinder both your workouts 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.

Our providers are experts at diagnosing and treating pain at the source, resolving most injuries quickly and effectively for long-term relief. Give us a call today at (800) 404-6050 to find a provider near you.


Read our Medical Disclaimer here.

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