Understanding Swimmer's Shoulder: A Comprehensive Guide

Author: Area13.com.au   Date Posted:10 February 2023 

Swimming is one of the most popular sports globally, attracting millions of participants of all ages and skill levels. While it's widely considered a low-impact and injury-free sport, many swimmers still suffer from various types of injuries, with swimmer's shoulder being one of the most common. In this article, we'll explore what swimmer's shoulder is, its causes, symptoms, and treatment options, as well as ways to prevent it from occurring.

What is Swimmer's Shoulder?

Swimmer's shoulder, also known as swimmer's rotator cuff, is a type of overuse injury that affects the shoulder joint and surrounding muscles and tendons. It occurs when the rotator cuff is subjected to repetitive stress, causing small tears in the tendons that connect the shoulder blade to the upper arm bone. These tears can lead to pain, weakness, and loss of motion in the shoulder.

Causes of Swimmer's Shoulder

There are several factors that can contribute to the development of swimmer's shoulder, including:

  • Overuse: Swimming is a repetitive sport that places a lot of stress on the shoulder joint and surrounding muscles and tendons. This repeated stress can cause small tears in the rotator cuff tendons, leading to swimmer's shoulder.

  • Improper Technique: Poor swimming technique, such as overreaching or using an inefficient arm stroke, can put excessive stress on the shoulder and increase the risk of injury.

  • Poor Shoulder Strength: Weak shoulder muscles can increase the risk of swimmer's shoulder, as they are unable to support the shoulder joint and surrounding tendons during the repetitive motions of swimming.

  • Overloading: Training too hard or too often without sufficient rest and recovery can lead to overloading the shoulder, which can increase the risk of injury.

Symptoms of Swimmer's Shoulder

The symptoms of swimmer's shoulder can vary depending on the severity of the injury, but common symptoms include:

  • Pain: Pain is the most common symptom of swimmer's shoulder, and it can range from a dull ache to sharp, stabbing pain.

  • Weakness: Swimmer's shoulder can cause weakness in the shoulder, making it difficult to perform everyday activities or swim with proper technique.

  • Loss of Motion: The injury can cause a reduction in the range of motion of the shoulder, making it difficult to reach overhead or behind the back.

  • Swelling: Inflammation in the shoulder can cause swelling and tenderness.

Treatment of Swimmer's Shoulder

The treatment of swimmer's shoulder depends on the severity of the injury, but common treatment options include:

  • Rest: Resting the shoulder can help reduce pain and inflammation and allow the rotator cuff tendons to heal.

  • Physical Therapy: Physical therapy can help strengthen the shoulder muscles, improve mobility, and reduce pain.

  • Medications: Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, can help reduce pain and inflammation.

  • Cortisone Injections: Cortisone is a powerful anti-inflammatory medication that can be injected into the shoulder to help reduce pain and swelling.

  • Surgery: In severe cases of swimmer's shoulder, surgery may be necessary to repair the rotator cuff tendons and restore shoulder function.

Prevention of Swimmer's Shoulder

To prevent swimmer's shoulder, it's important to follow these steps:

  • Improve Technique: Learning proper swimming technique can help reduce the stress on the shoulder and decrease the risk of injury.
  • Strengthen Shoulder Muscles: Regular strength training exercises for the shoulder can help improve muscle function and reduce the risk of injury.

  • Cross-Train: Incorporating other sports and exercises into your routine can help reduce the repetitive stress on the shoulder from swimming.

  • Adequate Rest and Recovery: Allowing sufficient rest and recovery time after training and competition can help prevent overuse injuries.

  • Gradual Increase in Training Load: Gradually increasing the intensity and frequency of training can help prevent overloading the shoulder.

  • Use Proper Equipment: Using proper equipment, such as swim fins and paddles, can help reduce the stress on the shoulder during swimming.

  • Conclusion

    Swimmer's shoulder is a common injury among swimmers, but it can be prevented and treated with proper care and attention. By following the steps outlined above, swimmers can reduce their risk of developing this painful and debilitating injury and maintain their ability to enjoy the sport they love.