Visit Arrow Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation in Woodbridge for any swimming-related injuries
Swimming season may be over for some, but for the hardcore competitors, training is a year-round affair. As the most popular low-impact fitness activity in the country, over one million Americans are involved in recreational or competitive swimming, and more than one third of them practice and compete throughout the entire year. While competitive swimming is certainly a great way to stay fit all year, it also carries with it a risk for injury, but the good news is physical therapy can help.
Swimming is considered a great form of physical activity based on the fact that it strengthens multiple regions of the body while also improving flexibility and endurance. The lack of impact makes it a safe choice for avoiding lower-body injuries that are more common with land-based exercises, but its intense involvement of upper-body muscles increases the chances for overuse injuries. The risk for these types injuries is even greater in elite swimmers, who may train more than five miles per day, which puts lots of strain on joints from the extreme repetitive motions.
Overuse injuries occur gradually over time and primarily result from fatigue and failure to adhere to proper stroke techniques. Unsurprisingly, about 90% of complaints from swimmers relate to their shoulders, and the most common injury overall is swimmer’s shoulder. More of a general term than a specific injury, swimmer’s shoulder describes any shoulder pain that swimmers experience, but it’s usually due to rotator cuff tendinitis, which is a group of muscles and tendons that surround and stabilize the shoulder. If left untreated, swimmer’s shoulder can go on to cause more pain and other injuries that can interfere with performance.
Though the shoulder is by far the most common site for injury, some swimmers may also experience other types of injuries. Swimmers that primarily perform the breaststroke are prone to a breaststroker’s knee, which describes knee pain from injuries to ligaments or tendons. Foot and ankle issues, hip pain and even back pain may also occur for some swimmers in certain circumstances.
The best way to reduce injury risk is to ensure that you’re practicing and competing with the proper technique, but at Arrow Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation, we recommend the following for treating and preventing swimming-related injuries:
- Warm up and stretch—especially the shoulder—before every swim
- Avoid overuse injuries by mixing up strokes and spending less time practicing those that are causing pain; also be sure that sufficient rest is taken
- Practice good communication between coaches, swimmers and sports trainers
- Take some time off rather than pushing through pain, which can make it worse
- Our physical therapists can help with a training program that will likely include core-strengthening exercises, shoulder-strengthening exercises, hip-strengthening exercises and flexibility exercises to increase shoulder range of motion
Arrow Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation in Woodbridge, Somerville, Union and Edison, NJ can help you keep your swimming injury risk at a minimum. Call us at 908-393-9877 for more information or to schedule an appointment.