Swimmers’ Shoulder Injuries: How to Prevent Them? - N8 Family Chiropractic

Swimmers’ Shoulder Injuries: How to Prevent Them?

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About 66% of the US Olympic Swim Team has experienced some type of shoulder issue. The shoulder is a very complex joint that’s designed to permit a wide range of motion. In swimming, the shoulders are used not only to move but to propel the whole body against the resistance of the water. 

How do shoulder injuries occur? 

Improper Techniques

Water is 800 times more resistant than air,  therefore, even a slight imperfection within your technique can affect not only the performance and speed but can also further increase the amount of resistance you can get. Pulling arms straight back or crossing the arms on the hand entry can increase the stress on the shoulders.

Muscle Imbalances

Shoulders consist of various muscles that work together to move the arms. If one or more of these muscles is overactive or underactive, other muscles may have to compensate to perform the movement, leading to spasms.

Lack of warm-up exercises

Warming up and stretching is vital prior to overuse of the muscles. Skipping the stretching activity will result in muscle strain. 


Overuse of muscles and joints can also place anybody at risk of developing a shoulder injury. For a swimmer, the risks are higher due to the nature of the sport.

Lookout For SignsPreventing-Swimmers-Shoulder-Injury

A swimming injury is often associated with sharp pain. Radiating from the shoulder down to the elbow. The pain roots in the muscles.

Swimming, like repetitive overhead reaching, can exacerbate this pain. This condition is called shoulder tendonitis, an inflammation of the biceps and supraspinatus muscles in the shoulder. The pain is usually localized near the joint. But, it can also extend up the neck and shoulder or down the arm. 

Preventing swimming shoulder injuries 

  1. Strengthen Rotator Cuffs. Strengthening the rotator cuffs prevents the loss of muscle mass and tendon elasticity as the person gets older.  
  2. Engage in scapular stabilizers. Scapular stabilizers are the muscles on the back that keep your arms stable as they are attached to the body and perform different movement types. Strengthening this muscle group will help in providing additional support to the shoulders and added force in moving through the water.
  3. Improve Your Technique. Propelling the body using your arms in the water requires specific techniques to prevent shoulder strain and muscle sprain. Ensure to reach out directly in front with your arms straight in line with the body. Avoid crossing the middle line as this will increase the likelihood of straining the shoulder muscles and joints.
  4. Warm-Up. Swimming uses large muscle groups. Ensure that all these muscle groups are stretched well to prevent spasms and muscle fatigue.

Swimmers are susceptible to shoulder pain for a variety of reasons. The repetitive overhead motions of swimming can cause inflammation and irritation in the rotator cuff muscles and tendons. 

Have you experienced a shoulder injury? Our team of experts can help with the healing process. Book a consultation with us at N8 Family Chiropractic today.


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