During the summer, many people flock to the pools in order to escape the summer heat and get some exercise. Swimming can be a fun way to exercise but it can also be very strenuous. Without the proper technique, swimmers can develop injuries that can keep them out of the pool and put a damper on their summer.
One of the most common injuries suffered by swimmers is shoulder known as swimmer’s shoulder. This problem is characterized by a sharp pain while swimming and a throbbing pain after swimming. It is caused by the stress applied to the shoulders when the arm enters the water, especially during butterfly or freestyle swimming.
In a single 2,500-yard freestyle workout, a typical man averages 1,500 strokes and a typical woman averages 3,000 strokes. An excess of internal rotation during each stroke continuously adds to the stress applied to the shoulder. It is no wonder that 60% of all swimmers suffer from a chronic irritation of the shoulder and rotator cuff.
In order to prevent the onset of swimmer’s shoulder, swimmers can do certain simple exercises and take special care of their arms. Soreness is normal after swimming, however if pain develops during or after a swimming workout the swimmer should apply ice to the affected area to reduce swelling. If pain persists after ice and rest, it may be wise to consult a physical therapist. Physical therapists can help people with swimmer’s shoulder by stretching, strengthening and massaging the affected shoulder.
By stretching before and after swimming you can greatly reduce the risk of developing swimmer’s shoulder. Once you’re in the water it is very important to pay close attention to your technique. With each stroke your third and fourth fingers should be the first to enter the water. If your thumb is entering the water first your arm may be rotating internally to an excessive degree. By making this simple change to your mechanics and by taking proper care of your body you can prevent the development of swimmer’s shoulder and enjoy a carefree summer in the pool!