Whether you are a competitive swimmer, or someone who swims for leisure, injuries can occur at any stage. With elite swimmers training more than five miles per day, it is likely that a competitive swimmer will experience some type of injury throughout their career. It is common that injuries can come from overuse, or anything that involves the shoulder.
Below are some of the most common injuries involved with swimming. You can find descriptions to each, so you know what it is, and what symptoms to look for if you have an injury.
- Irritation and inflammation in the shoulders: also known as shoulder bursitis. A bursitis is inflammation of a bursa. Injury or inflammation of a bursa around the shoulder joint causes shoulder bursitis.
- Symptoms include: swelling, tenderness and pain with motion of the tissues in the affected area
- Rotator Cuff tendonitis or tears: a rotator cuff tear is a tear in the tissues connecting muscle to bone (tendons) around the shoulder joint. If you have tendinitis, it means that your tendons are inflamed or irritated.
- Symptoms include: shoulder pain and weakness
- Shoulder impingement syndrome, is caused by inflammation from repetitive shoulder activities. Injury and aging are other causes.
- Pain may be consistent and increase with lifting or reaching movements
- Tears in the Cartilage around the shoulder socket: also known as labral tear of the shoulder. The labrum is a piece of fibrocartilage (rubbery tissue) attached to the rim of the shoulder socket that helps keep the ball of the joint in place. When this cartilage is torn, it is called a labral tear.
- Symptoms include: a catching or locking feeling when you move your shoulder, pain during daily activities and the shoulder may feel unstable.
- Neck and low back pain: this can be caused by repetitive stress. If you fail to roll your body as a whole unit while swimming can create torsional strain at the point where the lumbar spine meets your pelvis.
- Knee injuries due to breaststroker’s knee: Breaststroker’s knee can come from the tension that increases during the kicking phase, from the force generated on the inside of the knee which can cause problems to the Medial Collateral Ligament.
Other injuries that aren’t as common, but still happen from time to time include concussions and neck injuries. If you don’t pay careful attention to your surroundings while swimming, head collisions with other swimmers can lead to these injuries.
In order to prevent/ treat injuries as best as possible, you can follow these guides:
- Communicate that you have an injury with your coaches/ parents before it gets worst
- Practice good techniques in order to avoid tears
- Don’t continue to do strokes that are causing you pain
- Strengthen your core
- Do alternative training such as; kicking with shoulder pain, or pulling with lower body pain
- Take time to rest and recover when necessary
- Consult your doctor, trainers, etc. before going back to training
If you are an active swimmer, it is best to follow these recommendations in order to prevent an injury. If you feel that you have experienced or are experiencing any of these problems, please contact OIP so we can set you up with a provider to take care of your needs!