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Swim Without Pain: Understanding and Overcoming Swimmer's Shoulder

Swim Without Pain: Understanding and Overcoming Swimmer's Shoulder

Swimming is a popular sport that offers numerous benefits for cardiovascular fitness and overall health. However, frequent repetitive shoulder movements can lead to a common condition known as swimmer's shoulder. 

The Basics of the Shoulder

The shoulder joint is a remarkable and complex structure consisting of bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. It comprises the humerus (upper arm bone), scapula (shoulder blade), and clavicle (collarbone). The shoulder joint's remarkable mobility allows for a wide range of movements, but it also makes  it susceptible to injuries, such as swimmer's shoulder. Swimmer's shoulder, also known as subacromial impingement syndrome, is a condition characterized by pain and inflammation in the shoulder joint. It occurs due to repetitive overhead motions, such as those involved in swimming strokes, which place excessive stress on the rotator cuff muscles and tendons. Swimmers of all levels, from beginners to professionals, can experience swimmer's shoulder.

Causes of Swimmer's Shoulder

Several factors contribute to the development of swimmer's shoulder, including:

  • Overuse and repetitive motions: swimmers frequently repeat specific strokes, leading to overuse of the shoulder joint and surrounding structures.
  • Poor technique: incorrect swimming technique can put unnecessary strain on the shoulder joint, increasing the risk of injury.
  • Muscle imbalances: weakness or imbalance in the muscles surrounding the shoulder, particularly the rotator cuff, can lead to instability and shoulder pain.
  • Insufficient warm-up or cool-down: inadequate warm-up exercises and failure to cool down after swimming can contribute to muscle tightness and increased risk of injury.

Common Signs and Symptoms

Swimmer's shoulder manifests through a variety of signs and symptoms, including:

  • Shoulder pain: dull, aching pain in the shoulder joint, which may radiate down the arm.
  • Shoulder weakness: reduced strength and difficulty performing swimming strokes or everyday activities involving the shoulder.
  • Loss of range of motion: difficulty reaching overhead, lifting objects, or performing daily tasks due to limited shoulder mobility.
  • Shoulder instability: feeling of shoulder joint "slipping" or "catching" during movements, indicating potential muscle imbalances or ligament damage.

How Physiotherapy Can Help

Physiotherapy can play a vital role in diagnosing and treating swimmer's shoulder, helping you get back in the water pain-free. Here's how physiotherapy can assist:

  • Individualized treatment plans: a physiotherapist will assess your condition, identify contributing factors, and create a personalized treatment plan tailored to your specific needs.
  • Pain management: various techniques, such as manual therapy, joint mobilization, and soft tissue release, can help alleviate pain and reduce inflammation in the shoulder joint.
  • Exercise prescription: your physiotherapist will design a comprehensive exercise program to strengthen the rotator cuff muscles, improve shoulder stability, and correct muscle imbalances.
  •  Technique evaluation and correction: a physiotherapist with expertise in swimming-related injuries can analyze your swimming technique and provide guidance on proper form and biomechanics to prevent future shoulder problems.
  • Rehabilitation and gradual return to activity: physiotherapy includes gradual progression of exercises, focusing on improving strength, range of motion, and overall function to facilitate a safe return to swimming.
  • Injury prevention strategies: your physiotherapist will educate you on injury prevention techniques, warm-up and cool-down exercises, and proper body mechanics to reduce the risk of future shoulder injuries.

How can our team at Motion Works Physiotherapy Orleans help?

Swimmer's shoulder can be a frustrating and painful condition that affects swimmers of all levels! Our team of physiotherapists at Motion Works Orleans can work with you to alleviate your shoulder pain and help prevent future shoulder injuries! Take the plunge into physiotherapy and get back to enjoying the water with comfort and ease.

Are you wondering how our physiotherapist can help with Swimmer's shoulder? Let's talk about how we can help you get back to the water and feeling your best! Request a consultation today.

We are accepting in-person and virtual appointments.

(613) 714-9722