Did you know that up to 91 percent of competitive swimmers have reported experiencing shoulder pain? Unfortunately most young swimmers will develop such pain—it’s just part of the sport. […]
A recent study looked at 80 elite swimmers aged 13-26 and found that 91 percent had shoulder pain. The mean age of these swimmers was 15.9 year old–kids! The majority of these swimmers competed at state to international level so they were the best of the best.
The study examined whether shoulder pain was related to swimming stroke, laxity (tissue looseness) or training. 52 participants had MRIs performed and 69 percent of those revealed rotator cuff tendonopathy—in other words, degenerative or overuse changes of the rotator cuff tendons.
The higher level of competition was related to a higher incidence of tendonopathy (100 percent, 89 percent, 40 percent in the international, national and club athlete, respectively).
This condition was found in 54 percent of swimmers aged between 13 and 14 years, 77 percent between 15 and 16 years, 100 percent between 17 and 18 years and 71 percent between 19 and 22 years of age—as I said, kids! The study found swimmers averaging 15 hours or more than 35 miles per week, demonstrated overuse changes in the rotator cuff tendons.There was not a relationship between tendonopathy and either the type of stroke or laxity.
Photo by Jim Bahn