A Guide to Swimmer’s Shoulder and How to Successfully Prevent It

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Do you suffer from swimmer’s shoulder? Is it preventing you from reaching your full potential? Here is a great breakdown about why swimmer’s shoulder happens and how you can prevent this injury while keeping your swimmer’s lifestyle.

Swimmer’s Shoulder
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to find out that swimming regularly and competitively can give you a shoulder injury, given that swimming requires hundreds of thousands of arm rotations. This puts a lot of strain on the shoulder muscles and joints. Competitive swimmers quickly discover that the most common injury is the shoulders, and it happens very frequently to all swimmers.

Preventing Swimmer’s Shoulder
Fixing an existing swimmer’s shoulder problem and preventing it all starts with the posture. When you’re in or out of the pool, you have to work on improving your posture. The most frequent cause of this injury is poor mechanics in the water and bad posture. When we’re at home, we tend to always be slumped – at our desks, on the couch, in bed, and whenever we’re looking at our phones. This posture translates into swimming as well.

When you have a bad posture in the water, you’re setting yourself up for a shoulder injury. That’s because you’re limiting the mobility of your limbs, but you’re also generating less power. Knowing this, here are some good tips to follow to improve your posture.

1. Sleep on your back
The default sleep position for most people is on the side. The problem with that is that if you’re a swimmer, placing an arm over your head or rolling your shoulders forward puts them out of alignment and makes a sore shoulder much worse. When you sleep, lie on your back to keep pressure off your shoulders and to align your neck and shoulders.

2. Work on t-spine mobility
As per Chris Fordham, a swim coach at Write My X and Brit Student, “the thoracic spine is the upper and middle back, and it’s important to get good mobility here or you’ll be hindering your dolphin kick. Focus on exercises that boost the range of motion in your t-spine.”

3. Focus on scapular stability
The scaps are the base of your shoulder joint and how it can generate more force and power. The stronger and more stable your scaps, the more power and speed you can get in the water, and the less likely you are to get injured. Add some scap strengthening and stability exercises in your routine.

4. Rotator cuffs are important
Internal and external rotator exercises are linked with swimming for decades. Rob Thorpe, a physician at 1Day2Write and Next Coursework, warns that “working on the rotator cuff won’t fix all shoulder problems though. The internal and external rotators aren’t a solution but a prevention tool, and shouldn’t be prioritized over t-spine mobility and scap stability.”

5. Develop a perfect swimming technique
You need to maintain a good posture in the water as well as out or you’re still susceptible to injury. Swimming is a resistance exercise, like weight lifting, so you need to focus on technique and form first and foremost. The best way to prevent injury is to have an excellent technique and great mechanics in the water. If you do feel shoulder pain, go see a physician right away and speak to your trainer. You need to find out which exact movement causes pain and why.

6. Get a good routine
Swimming takes a lot of time. On top of school, work and social activities, it can be hard to make time for swimming and focus on our health and strengthening. However, spending just a few minutes each day before a workout will go a long way in preventing a chronic or sudden injury. Focus on preparing your body and shoulders specifically to high-performance activity. Make this a part of your routine that’s as critical as getting your goggles and suit.

The majority of shoulder injuries in swimming are preventable. By spending time thinking about your posture and working on your mechanics in the water, you can set yourself up to be in top physical condition. Be sure to keep your coach and sports doctor up to date on any injury or condition you might have.

Swimming buff and writer Joel Syder is a contributor for Coursework Help and PhD Kingdom. He writes articles about health, fitness, and his passion of swimming. His dream is to make competitive swimming a more popular sport for young kids. He also writes regularly for Academic Brits.

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About Author

Production engineer and certified swim coach. Full-time IT consultant, spare-time swimming aficionado. 2 sons, 2 daughters and a wife. President of the Faroe Islands Swimming Association. Likes to run :-)

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