Watch Out For Swim Shoulder Injuries

by Pool Builders on 08-31-2006 in Articles

Before we talk about our main subject, shoulder injuries, here's a quick energy tip for women swimmers; for an easy way to keep your energy levels high during your swim workout, try eating peanut butter on whole-wheat crackers before.

Stay hydrated during a workout by drinking two 8-ounce (250ml) glasses of water 1 hour before. If you wait until you're thirsty - it's already too late!

Swimming and Shoulder Injuries in Women

Ladies, the biggest source of swimming injuries is the shoulder. Butterfly swimming is considered the stroke most likely to cause injury, with Freestyle (otherwise known as Front Crawl) coming second.

The shoulder is a very complex piece of anatomy. So if you have hurt your shoulder, it can be quite difficult for professionals to diagnose exactly which muscle has been injured. If your shoulder is hurting while you swim, it's best to decrease or temporarily stop the exercise that's hurting. You should consider staying away from the pool for at least a week or two.

Ask yourself what you might have been doing to cause pain; have you had a sudden increase in training distance or intensity? Keep increases in workload to less than 10% per week.

Are you using only one stroke during your workout? You will gain more from cross training with other strokes.

We are often taught to 'reach and roll' when we put our hands in the water to start our pull. Might you be reaching too far and over-rotating, crossing over in freestyle when pulling? Don't over-stretch your shoulders in an attempt to increase the range of your stroke. Instead, back off a little and start your pull before your arm is fully extended. You might feel you are short-stroking a little bit, but the difference is slight.

Do you use hand paddles? Stop. Paddles put a great deal of unnatural pressure on your shoulders and you likely don't really need them. Any use of hand paddle training devices while injured can add to a swimmer's problems. Most paddles will cause shoulder problems, given time. Instead, use leg fins so you can start going through the motions of your armstroke without much effort.

Concentrate on improving your leg action. Emphasize a steady, even kick to take pressure off your shoulders. As mentioned above, try fins for a while.

One of the most important things in stroke technique, when it comes to freestyle and avoiding shoulder injuries is to bend your elbows underwater during the pull. This is proper form and will keep you from putting your shoulder in an awkward position that leads to problems. You still want to roll your body, but instead of initiating the roll with your shoulders, snap your hips.

If you breathe to only one side, you will develop the muscles more on one side than the other. This could cause a shoulder problem. To avoid lop-sided strength, ensure you use bilateral (on both sides) breathing in your workouts.

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You're Now In Rehab

If you have a shoulder injury, according to the Mayo Clinic; initially consider use of an ice-pack (cryotherapy). Later, change to contrasting treatments of moist heat and an ice-pack, twice per day. Ensure you see your doctor if pain continues.

Special Exercises

Employ pain-free isometric and elastic cord exercises with low resistance and a high number of repetitions two to three times daily. Using a 'theraband' or surgical tubing for some light resistance exercises can help in your rehabilitation. Exercises with these help strengthen your muscles without aggravating the injury.

Knee push-ups, regular push ups and wall leans (standing push ups against the wall), can help your conditioning program.

Summary

A shoulder injury forces you to slow down. When you've had some time away from swimming and are resuming training, always ease back into it. Start with something very light, like 800m the first day, 900m the next. Consider this as an opportunity to gently improve your stroke technique and drills, while you get back to full health.

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