Swimming is a fantastic sport that combines all body strength, flexibility and endurance. The sport itself is often prescribed in rehabilitation programs due to the low impact and all round body strength nature of it. Swimmers are, however, prone to overuse injuries affecting the shoulder, arms, neck, lower back and knees.
Common swimming injuries
90% of complaints by swimmers are related to shoulder problems. The average swimmer in school performs 1 to 2 million strokes annually with each arm. It is is no wonder that from an orthopaedic perspective, overuse conditions are the main type of swimming injuries.
Incorrect technique can also predispose the swimmer to potential injury. A poor stroke mechanic applied in freestyle or “front crawl” are often the cause of shoulder problems. The arm pull in butterfly and breaststroke can cause stress syndromes in the elbow. The specialised kick in breaststroke can cause injuries in the knee.
Common injuries include:
- Neck and Shoulder pain
- Catching pain
- Swimmers Shoulder
- Elbow pain (similar to Tennis Elbow)
- Lower back pain
- Knee ligament injury
- PFPS (runner’s knee)
Prevention of swimming injuries
As with most sports a thorough warm up program should help to reduce injury risk. With swimming it is no different with an added focus on the neck and shoulders due to the high incident rate of injuries in this area.
Taking coaching and advice for correct swimming techniques will also help, as mentioned previously poor mechanics can lead to injury.
Finally a good warm down followed by a decent recovery period following training or competition should also allow the body become stronger an more resilient against injury.
Treatment of swimming injuries
Treatment generally involves manual therapy but as with most concerns the correct diagnosis is fundamental in the best and fastest recovery. Treatments include: