Swimming injuries

By Katura Lambright

Swimming is among the most popular low-impact fitness activities, with more than a million competitive and recreational swimmers in the United States. More than one-third of these athletes practice and compete year-round. Elite swimmers may train more than five miles a day, putting joints through extreme repetitive motion. Most swimming injuries affect the shoulders, knees, hips, or back, depending on stroke.


You may have heard that swimming is the best active sport that is the least likely to cause injuries. However, as with anything else, with overuse comes fatigue and failure to adhere to proper stroke techniques. Often swimmers demonstrate tremendous flexibility or joint laxity, which can be normal. Slight injuries and micro-trauma can cause shoulders to become unstable and lead to shoulder pain and tendinitis. Other repetitive injuries include inner knee problems and hip problems from breaststroke kicking and back injuries from dolphin kicks or dry-land cross-training.


The shoulder is the joint most commonly affected by swimming injuries or overuse. Shoulder injuries may include rotator cuff impingement — pressure on the rotator cuff from part of the shoulder blade or scapula as the arm is lifted. Biceps tendinitis (painful inflammation of the bicep tendon) and shoulder instability, in which structures that surround the shoulder joint do not work to maintain the ball within its socket, all can result from fatigue and weakness of the rotator cuff and muscles surrounding the shoulder blade.


Knee injuries that involve the tendons and ligaments (breaststrokers’ knee) are common. Breaststrokers may also experience hip pain from inflammation of the hip tendons. Back problems, including lower back disk problems or another problem at the junction between the spine and pelvis, termed spondylolysis, may be increased by the dolphin kick often used in competitive swimming.


How can one prevent swimming injuries you might ask. Here are several ways to help prevent them. When an injury has occurred, there are a variety of ways to help an athlete recover. The main one we will be looking at for today’s purposes is medical massage therapy which will be discussed a bit later in the article.


*  Communication among athlete, parent, coach, and medical professional is critical to both swimming injury prevention and successful recovery

*  Use good stroke technique

*  Lessen repetitive strokes that are causing the overuse injury

*  Perform core strengthening and cross-training exercises as part of pre and early season routines

*  Consider alternative training techniques rather than training through an injury

*  Use periods of rest to recover

*  Focus rehabilitation efforts on rotator cuff and scapular strengthening for most shoulder injuries and pelvic and hip strengthening exercises for hip and knee injuries

*  Speak with a sports medicine professional or athletic trainer if you have any concerns about injuries or prevention strategies

*  The athlete should return to play only when clearance is granted by a health care professional



Swimming is perhaps one of the great full-body workouts for any fitness level. It is the perfect combination of muscle and cardio conditioning. Plus, in the summer it provides an excellent way to stay cool. Did you know that massage therapy can play a significant role in your swimming technique as well as in helping your muscles recover after a swim? Not just any massage therapy will do though. You will want to seek out the most reputable, well trained, a medical massage therapist who is familiar with a large variety of sports injuries. You will want to make sure that the therapist is familiar with a large variety of modalities, such as British Sports Therapy, soft tissue release, cryotherapy, and lymphatic drainage to name a few.


Increased Range of Motion
Massage therapy will improve blood circulation throughout your body. When swimming you are using your entire body, with increased circulation your muscles will loosen up, you’ll be more flexible, and eventually, you’ll have a greater range of motion. This will increase your time in the pool and allow you to be a strong swimmer.


Restore Mobility to Injured Muscles
With an exercise that requires a lot of muscle movement and stretching, it is easy to get tightness and even knots in your muscles. Regular massage therapy will help repair any damaged muscle tissue.


Reduce Risk of Overuse Injury
With so many muscle groups working hard repeatedly, swimmers can experience injury and muscle fatigue relatively easy. Massage therapy will help keep your swimming muscles loose, helping to avoid injury from overuse.


Quick Recovery 
After any exercise, you’ll feel tightness. It is best to stretch to get the blood flowing again and to avoid lactic acid build-up. After a swim, make sure to stretch properly. A post swim massage would be very beneficial for muscle and mental recovery.


Improve Mental Focus
In general, when your body is relaxed, your mind is at ease as well. It is only fitting that massage therapy helps ease the mind for swimmers which allowing them to focus when they are in the water.

To become a sport massage therapist, visit our website page https://emsom.edu