Shoulder injuries are popular among swimmers because of the activity’s repetitive nature. In only 25 yards, the shoulder rotates about 10 times with a freestyle stroke. A few hours in the pool can translate into hundreds (if not thousands) of rotations. Understandably, poor technique and inadequate rest will lead to complications.
Examples of Poor Technique and How It Impacts the Shoulder
Novice swimmers often place unnecessary strain on their shoulder muscles as they rotate their bodies and catch and pull the water.
- Body Rotation. A symmetrical body rotation, most often achieved with bilateral breathing, limits the amount of internal rotation happening at the shoulder joint. When the body swings too much side to side, the rotator cuff becomes susceptible to overuse and weakness.
- Catch and Pull. How swimmers pull their arms through the water affects how much work the shoulders do. Straight arms place most of the propulsion force on the shoulder joints, whereas keeping the elbows high and bent ensures the largest muscles take on the biggest load.
Besides perfecting your posture in the water, you need to monitor your activity for overtraining. If your muscles are not fully recovered between swimming sessions, then you risk injury. Similarly, suddenly overloading your training volume or intensity leaves your muscles unequipped to handle the change.
If at any point during your swimming practice your shoulders begin to hurt, don’t push through. The expression “no pain no gain” does not apply here. Ignoring shoulder pain can lead to injuries like tendonitis, which are often irreversible.