Swimmer's shoulder is a term used to describe a range of shoulder injuries that are common in swimmers. The repetitive motion of the shoulder during swimming can lead to overuse injuries, such as tendonitis, bursitis, or rotator cuff injuries.
Swimmer's shoulder is typically caused by the repetitive overhead motion and stress on the shoulder during swimming. Here are some common causes of swimmer's shoulder:
Poor technique: Swimming with improper technique can place excessive stress on the shoulder and lead to swimmer's shoulder. This may include improper arm and hand positioning, an incorrect pull motion, or improper body positioning.
Overuse: Swimming frequently or for long durations can lead to overuse injuries in the shoulder. Overuse can cause fatigue, strain, and damage to the shoulder muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
Muscle imbalances: Muscle imbalances in the shoulder, neck, or back can also contribute to swimmer's shoulder. Weakness or tightness in certain muscles can place increased stress on the shoulder joint and increase the risk of injury.
Lack of flexibility: Limited shoulder flexibility can also contribute to swimmer's shoulder. Limited flexibility can reduce the range of motion in the shoulder joint and increase the risk of injury.
Previous injury: A previous shoulder injury, such as a rotator cuff tear, can increase the risk of developing swimmer's shoulder.
Environmental factors: Cold water, high humidity, or exposure to chemicals in a pool can also contribute to swimmer's shoulder.
It's important to address the underlying causes of swimmer's shoulder to prevent future injury. Engaging in proper swimming technique, gradually increasing swimming intensity and duration, and performing regular strengthening and stretching exercises for the shoulder and surrounding muscles can help reduce the risk of swimmer's shoulder.
Treatment for swimmer's shoulder typically involves a combination of rest, physical therapy, and modifications to swimming technique. Here are some common treatments for swimmer's shoulder:
Rest: Resting the affected shoulder is important to allow the injured tissues to heal. Avoiding swimming or other activities that cause pain is recommended until the pain subsides.
Ice: Applying ice to the affected area can help reduce pain and inflammation. Applying ice for 20 minutes at a time, several times per day, is recommended.
Physical therapy: Physical therapy can help reduce pain and improve range of motion in the shoulder. A physical therapist can develop a customized exercise program to improve shoulder strength, flexibility, and stability.
Anti-inflammatory medication: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, can help reduce pain and inflammation.
Modification of swimming technique: Modifying swimming technique can help reduce stress on the shoulder joint. A swimming coach or physical therapist can provide guidance on proper technique.
Injection therapy: In severe cases, injection therapy, such as corticosteroid injections, may be recommended to reduce pain and inflammation.
Preventing swimmer's shoulder involves engaging in proper swimming technique, gradually increasing swimming intensity and duration, and performing regular strengthening and stretching exercises for the shoulder and surrounding muscles. It's also important to address any muscle imbalances or flexibility issues that may contribute to swimmer's shoulder.
Symptoms of swimmer's shoulder may include pain, stiffness, weakness, or a popping sensation in the shoulder during swimming or other overhead activities. The pain may be sharp or dull and may be felt in the front, back, or top of the shoulder.