When you are someone that does something repeatedly using your shoulder above 90 degrees, such as swimming, then it is likely at some point you will experience shoulder pain. Swimming, in physiotherapy terms is considered a low load, endurance, overhead repetitive activity. A physio West Perth physiotherapist observes that swimmers place a heavy demand on their shoulders from pulling through the water with their bodies in a prone position. Compared to sports that include hitting or throwing, for example, it is a different demand and leads to a different sub-group of injury.
What is swimmer’s shoulder?
The most common pain swimmers come in with is subacromial shoulder pain or rotator cuff related shoulder pain. The rotator cuff is a group of tendons and muscles around the shoulder joint. An injury there or frequent use can lead to a dull ache in the shoulder, which is when swimmers, overhead sport, and weightlifters will come into a physio Subiaco. It is a common injury in more than just people in sports, people who work in jobs that use that kind of movement often like painters or carpenters for example can also have problems. Rotator cuff problems occur more frequently with increasing age and/or overhead shoulder use. With physical therapy, symptoms are managed, and strength, flexibility and range of motion can be restored in most cases.
Early signs in swimmers include;
- Aching in the shoulder
- Feeling like you have lost some power on that side
- Not being able to lift your arm as you used to without pain
- Slower swim times
Causes of swimmer’s shoulder
A physio West Perth will tell you that shoulder pain is nearly always from either using it too much, overloading, or a technical problem. Some common causes then are;
- Not enough recovery time in between sessions of training that are especially hard.
- Too much training too soon after an injury.
- Trying to do the same intensity and load as you did before the injury when you are not yet ready.
- Using items like a pool buoy or hand paddles too much so it creates more of a demand on the shoulder.
- Using a new technique inefficiently in the wrong patterns at high loads.
- Swimming tired and fatigued and using poor technique and slipping into poor patterns.
- Not doing enough cardio work alongside your training.
- Having a long period of high stress and poor sleep and still maintaining your high training load.
Managing and preventing the condition
Using a hand-held luggage device that measures weight you can easily notice whether your strength in the rotator cuff is getting worse. Just do some measurements over time and see how your numbers are doing. You can spot whether there is a problem a lot sooner and head to a physio Subiaco. Some prevention strategies to manage and avoid the problem include;
- Graded and careful increases in your swimming load when it comes to the pace, how long you swim for and distances you swim
- Using a professional coach to help point out performance issues and stroke analysis so you can look at technique and inefficient stroke
- Join a squad so you can improve your conditioning and your capacity for aerobics
- Complete a program with a physio designed to build the strength in the shoulder carefully
- Make use of other physio services and professional massage services after a swim session such as stretching, sports massage, spiky ball or roller, and more