Injury Prevention for Swimmers!
Swimming is one of the best cardiovascular endurance exercises out there that strengthens the whole body! A lot of land based sport athletes resort to swimming and aquatic exercises even when they are injured or for cross training because it is a low impact sport that can in times of injury for a land based athlete provide a pain-free method for exercise. Because of it’s low impact nature, many people also enjoy swimming as a lifelong sport. Now even though swimming is an amazing sport, it has its own host of common injuries seen in competitive athletes and recreational athletes.
The most common injuries we see in swimming are shoulder, low back, neck and knee. A fun fact–the average high school swimmer performs about 1-2 million strokes a year with EACH arm. That is a lot of repetitions of one specific motion! If you haven’t guessed it yet, the most common causes of injuries in swimming are due to overtraining, poor stroke mechanics, and a sudden increase in workload.
Swimmer’s Shoulder, also known as, shoulder impingement is by far the most common swimming injury we see. Impingement syndrome occurs when the supraspinatus and biceps tendons get inflamed and repetitively aggravated or pinched between the acromion and humeral head during active motion. Often times, impingement is associated with poor posture, increased mobility of the shoulder joint capsule, poor motor control and strength imbalances from a structural standpoint. When imbalances in the body then mix with training errors such as overtraining, overloading, or poor technique, then we tend to see these injuries occur! Swimmer’s shoulder tends to affect freestyle, butterfly, and backstrokers the most. The good news is, these injuries respond very well to scapular stabilization programs and improvement of stroke form and efficient technique.
Lower back pain in swimmers is also quite common. Younger athletes are prone to back pain caused by repetitive stress in the lower back from hyperextension, stress from diving, or underwater kicking. These athletes need a strong focus on core stabilization exercises and core strengthening to help maintain their posture during hours of swimming.