Swimming Injuries and Prevention

Swimming has become one of the most popular fitness activities in the United States, thanks to its low joint impact. Swimming strengthens your core, builds your balance and helps your heart. Swimming is not always fun and games; there can be many painful repercussions if your splish-splashing is not taken seriously.

Most swimming injuries are caused by improper stroke techniques and fatigue. Exhaustion and lack of practice result in micro-traumas, causing pain in a swimmer’s shoulder that could lead to tendinitis. Overusing one’s shoulder could also result in rotator cuff impingement (pressure on the rotator cuff from part of the shoulder blade or scapula as the arm is lifted), bicep tendinitis (painful inflammation of the bicep tendon), and shoulder instability.

Repetitive dolphin kicks, breaststroke kicks or dry-land cross training often cause inner knee, hip, and back problems. Most lower body swimming injuries result from tendon damage. Inflammation of the hip tendon triggers hip pain for breaststrokers. Those using dolphin kicks are likely to suffer from lower back disk issues and spondylosis (problems at the junction between the spine and pelvis).

While some of these injuries may make you think twice before stepping in the pool, know that there are many ways to prevent these injuries from happening:

  • Rest. Your body will tell you when you need to stop swimming and take a break.
  • Use less repetitive strokes that are known to induce overuse injury.
  • Work on learning and applying proper stroke technique.
  • Be active in and out of the water; practice core-strengthening exercises to prepare you for your pool endeavors.

To talk more in depth about your questions regarding swimming, or non-swimming joint related issues, contact the Bone & Joint Center at 616-494-4269.