How To Prevent Shoulder Injuries

Swimmers, just like athletes who need to throw much, will put a lot of stress and pressure on their shoulders. Swimmers cover thousands of meters or yards in the swimming pool on a daily basis. The fact of the matter is that shoulder injuries occur more among swimming athletes than among baseball pitchers. So here we’ll talk about How To Prevent Shoulder Injuries. The following Global Triathlon Network video explains why, when your shoulders need to do so much work in swimming, it comes as no surprise that shoulder injuries are among the most common for swimmers.

Shoulder injuries are common among swimmers because a swimmer might use the shoulder more than 2000 times in a single swim workout of 5-8 miles. Additionally, the shoulders are your body’s engine in the water, providing nearly 90% of a swimmer’s forward motion.

Can these injuries be prevented?

It is not that more exercise can guarantee a swimmer to stay injury-free, but by keeping the important shoulder muscles strong, swimmers can decrease the chances of injuries in the future considerably. Too much trauma to these critical areas of the shoulder joint can result in shoulder pain, and in the worst case, structural damage.

How do you stay in the water and swim injury-free?

The following shoulder exercises, developed and used by physical therapist Lisa Giannone, have been used successfully with recreational and elite swimmers but commanding basic swimming techniques is key. These exercises, while they make look simple and familiar, are very effective in isolating the following shoulder muscles:

Rotator cuff – This is an exercise to support the complex of four shoulder muscles and their tendons. It helps to keep a swimmer’s shoulder joint stable during highly complex movements such as swimming.

Shoulder blade muscles – The shoulder blade is the foundation of the shoulder joint and is responsible for helping move the arm overhead.

Rotator Cuff-Internal Rotation

• Use a section of low resistance elastic bands for resistance.
• Place a rolled-up towel underneath the elbow.
• Keeping elbow at the side, rotate hand in so that arm is straight out from the body. Hold position until the front of shoulder/chest starts to fatigue and burn.
• Try 10 repetitions of small rotations in and out. Repeat until fully fatigued. Rest and repeat for a total of 3-4 sets.

Rotator Cuff-External Rotation

• Use a section of low resistance elastic bands for resistance.
• Place a rolled-up towel underneath the elbow.
• Keeping elbow at side rotate hand out so that arm is straight out from the body. Hold position until the back of the shoulder starts to fatigue and burn.
• Try 10 repetitions of small rotations in and out. Repeat until fully fatigued. Rest and repeat for a total of 3-4 sets.

Shoulder Blade Squeeze

• Lie face down on bed or exercise mat
• Pull shoulder blades down as if trying to reach hands toward feet.
• Bring shoulder blades back and together, lifting hands just off of the floor. You should feel fatigue between the shoulder blades.
• Hold for 5 seconds, repeat for a total of 10-15 repetitions. 3-4 sets

Summary

  • It is very important that these exercises are felt in the indicated areas so that the correct muscles are being used.
  • The exercises should be taken to the point where the muscles burn and reach full fatigue.
  • Try to repeat the exercises three days a week with a day in between. See also this post about synchronized swimming techniques and how to prevent injuries.