Who said working out couldn't be fun? As we enter the summer season, hitting the pool can be a great way to exercise while also enjoying the warm weather and sunshine. Swimming can build strength and cardiovascular endurance without putting an excessive amount of stress on your body. Although it is a low-impact exercise, swimmers are still prone to various forms of injuries in both the upper and lower extremities. Our latest blog discusses four common injuries swimmers face, as well as prevention strategies for these injuries.
1. Shoulder Pain
The shoulder is the most commonly injured joint in swimmers. Shoulder pain is an overuse problem caused by repetitive microtrauma. The two most common sources of pain are because of Bicep tendonitis occurs due to overuse of the bicep tendon. Your bicep muscle is located at the front of your upper arm. There are two tendons that attach this muscle to different bones in your arm. One tendon attaches the bicep muscle to the scapula bone of the shoulder, and the other tendon attaches the muscle to the radius bone at the elbow. The bicep tendon is key to movement in our limbs. Although tendons are tough, they are still prone to wear and tear injury.
Bicep tendonitis is common among swimmers due to repetitive motion of the arm and shoulder. The overuse of your bicep tendon can result in micro tears in the tendon which cause it to become painful and weak. You will often feel this pain starting in the front of your shoulder and down your arm. Bicep tendonitis may accompany other shoulder problems such as rotator cuff injuries, shoulder arthritis, or shoulder stiffness.
2. Hyperextension of the Lumbar Spine
Due to the significant stress that swimming puts on the spine, back injuries are one of the most common injuries swimmers face behind shoulder injuries. Swimmer’s move their body in extreme ranges of motion in a repetitive manner. If they do not use the proper technique, they are more prone to developing musculoskeletal injuries such as those dealing with the lumbar spine. The lumbar is one of the four regions of the spine. In butterfly and breaststroke specifically, swimmers place a great amount of stress on their lower back due to the power and range of motion required for kicking movements. This movement requires proper functionality of the lower back where the lumbar spine is located. Front strokes such as breaststroke and butterfly stroke can cause hyper-textnsion of the lower back due to poor positioning of the head and body in the water. This repetitive flexion and extension can lead to lower back pain and back spasms.
Back pain can be debilitating and take you out of the water for extended periods of time. Are you struggling with back pain? has a wide range of experience diagnosing and treating your swimming injuries and can give you the care you need.
3. Swimmer’s Knee
This swimming injury is most commonly associated with breaststroke. Breaststroke swimmers place frequent stress on the ligaments in the inner knee due to repetitive and powerful kicking motions. This causes the knee to move into a flexed and external rotated position. The overextension of the ligament puts strain on the medial collateral ligament (MCL). Your MCL is a band of tissue that runs along the inner edge of your knee. It helps to keep your knee stable by connecting your shin and thigh bones. If you have an MCL injury, you will typically experience swelling, instability of your knee, and pain along the inside of your knee.
While swimmer's knee can commonly be treated with anti-inflammatory medicine, rest, and physical therapy, severe damage to your MCL may require a surgical solution. a consultation with Dr. Rytel today to discuss your treatment options.
4. Hip Inflammation
Hip inflammation is another injury associated with breast stroke. This is due to the rotational kicking motion involved with the stroke. Your hip flexors are composed of the following group of muscles: iliopsoas, rectus femoris, and tensor fascia latae. Proper functionality of these muscles are important, as they are responsible for flexing the hip joint and playing a role in the function of the lumbar spine and knee joint. Overuse of the hip flexors can cause fatigue of the muscles due to the repetitive kicking motion in swimming. This can lead to pain and movement restriction that can decrease a swimmer’s range of motion and kicking strength. Hip inflammation can also make a swimmer more susceptible to other injuries such as lower back pain and hip impingement.
Hip pain and inflammation is typically a result of immobility and lack of strength. Get ahead of hip inflammation by scheduling an appointment with Dr. Rytel to discuss non-invasive solutions such as physical therapy.
Swimming Injury Prevention: What You Can Do
Behind every great swimmer are routines and exercises that allow them to stay in the water and in healthy condition. Here are some of the best ways you can prevent swimming injuries:
- Warm-up properly before swimming exercises
- Stretch to loosen muscles
- Use good technique/ form
- Take advantage of rest periods
- Do not overwork your body if you already have an injury
- Do physical therapy rehabilitation for existing injuries
This summer, don't allow your swimming injuries to keep you out of the pool. If you are looking for a sports medicine doctor near you, is highly experienced in treating a wide variety of swimming-related injuries ranging from rotator cuff repair to biceps tenodesis surgery. With Dr. Rytel's care, your injury will be diagnosed and treated with cutting-edge solutions so you can get back to the water. Do not allow your injury to worsen. an appointment with us today or call (412)-661-5500 for more information.