Anyone who has been swimming for a while knows that shoulder injuries are one of the worst, yet most common types of injuries a swimmer gets. If they have not experienced this injury themselves, someone on their team certainly has. And as every swimmer most likely knows, a shoulder injury is not necessarily an injury, per se, but most often a problem with the shoulder muscles. Swimming is really hard on the shoulders, whether or not you kick while you swim. And knots in those muscles are painful. If there are enough of them, it can make it impossible to get a full range of motion of your shoulder, and impossible to swim. I have been stuck with a shoulder injury before, and it left me unable to really do anything challenging in practice for months.
So what can you do to prevent these injuries?
- Use good technique. Often times, you don’t use proper technique and end up trying to use small muscles in your shoulder to pull the water. This leads to a plethora of issues, including shoulder injury. If avoiding shoulder pain isn’t enough of a reason, it also makes you faster and not get so tired so quickly because those little muscles get more tired more quickly compared to the bigger muscles.
- Shoulder strengthening exercises. These will help to strengthen your shoulder and stabilize it. They seem like a pain to do but they actually make a big difference.
- FIX YOUR POSTURE. Sure, it’s annoying and seemingly small, but it adds up. Especially as a student, it may seem impossible to do because you have to hunch over your desk or computer all day and carry around a heavy backpack but it’s worth the effort. Your posture is something you do every minute of every day so bad posture adds up.
- Get a massage/cupping once in a while. Don’t wait until your shoulder starts hurting to get it done. It’s too late for that. Get one done every other week or once a month, whatever works for you. Those shoulder knots need to be released before they cause a problem, not after.
- Strengthen your abs. This may seem unrelated but this contributed to my own shoulder injury a few years ago. If your abs aren’t strong enough for you to rotate properly, you compensate by using your shoulder muscles to help you rotate. This overloads your shoulder even more and causes shoulder pain.
It seems like this won’t ever happen to you until it does. A shoulder injury is annoying to deal with and can really throw a wrench in your training.