Stay Flexible For Injury Free Swimming

As the warmer weather is approaching it is a time of year where people begin to take the covers off their pool and return to swimming. Swimming is a great form of exercise for the entire body. The water provides a nice, light resistance to the body that creates minimal stress on the joints. Unfortunately, like most recreational activities it can cause pain and stress to parts of the body.

Be Aware Of Swimmer’s Shoulder

Swimmer’s shoulder” is a common injury in the competitive world of swimming. It has been found that participants that spend a large amount of time swimming can develop supraspinatus tendinopathy as well as anterior instability of the shoulder. Supraspinatus tendinopathy is basically an irritation to the uppermost muscle of the rotator cuff that can cause significant pain. Anterior instability means that the humeral head, or ball, is no longer centered in the shoulder socket. It is being pushed forward due to the repetitive stresses that it is under while the athlete is swimming.

What’s Your Style?

It has been shown that any style of swimming (freestyle, butterfly, etc…) can cause pain in the shoulder. The issue is more about the amount of swimming that an athlete is doing that correlates with having increased problems. As the swimmers shoulder fatigues it is difficult to maintain good mechanics which will create undue stress to the rotator cuff.

Time Matters

Swimmers that are going to be logging in a lot of time doing lapse whether for competitive or recreational purposes need to be performing flexibility exercises and corrective exercises to insure that they have good strength of their scapular stabilizers. Most of these athletes with develop significant muscle imbalances between the muscle groups in the front of the shoulder versus the ones in the back of the shoulder.


In conclusion, swimming is a great sport that is quite enjoyable during the warm summer months. If you do notice that your shoulder starts to be painful or stiff you should consult your physical therapist or physician in order to prevent serious damage from occurring.

Post By Sean Moore, PT, MPT

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