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Shoulder pain and swimming

Shoulder Pain and Swimming – How to Treat it

Swimming is arguably one of the best forms of exercise to get your entire body in shape. But along with a sleek physique and controlled breathing skills many swimmers often experience shoulder pain.

In fact, a recent study found that 91% of elite swimmers age 13 to 25 reported at least one episode of shoulder pain. Here are some steps you can take to prevent and treat shoulder pain from swimming:

Causes of Shoulder Pain in Swimming

The primary cause of swimming related shoulder pain is improper stroke technique. Take some time to improve and change your stroke technique in the following four ways so you can avoid shoulder pain in the future:

Rotation: Too often people swim with flat bodies instead of rotating from side to side. Your body should be rotating from side-to-side even on strokes when you aren’t breathing. Bi-lateral breathing naturally rotates your body, so if you are only breathing on one side, switching to bi-lateral breathing will help you rotate naturally.

Hand placement: Your hand should come into the water at an angle, pinky first. Pitching your hand into the water thumb first can lead to extreme internal rotation, causing an overuse injury that manifests itself as acute shoulder pain.

Posture: Posture isn’t only important on land; it can also affect your stroke and technique in the water. Keep your shoulders back and your chest forward while you swim. Doing some stabilizing and strengthening exercises for your chest and upper body will help with body alignment.

Pull through: Now that you can properly rotate and place your hands into the water with correct posture, you need to worry about your pull through at the end of your stroke. Keep your elbow high instead of flat or low. This reduces the load on your shoulders because you’ll be using your more powerful muscle groups of your chest and upper back.

Shoulder Pain Treatment

Shoulder pain and swimmingKnowing how to prevent future shoulder pain is helpful, but if you’re experiencing it now you want relief. Physical therapy is the first step toward treatment, and Dr. Palermo is a leading specialist in treating sports related injuries in New York. If you haven’t already, stop swimming to relieve the pain and prevent further damage. Your physical therapy will focus on resting the shoulder and strengthening the rotator cuff. Some of the exercises might include the ones found here at the USA swimming website. Generally physical therapy and a change in stroke technique will be all you need to get back into the water but in extreme cases surgery might be necessary.

Contact us today to make an appointment and get started on your recovery.