While swimming is relatively low-impact compared to running or biking, that doesn’t mean that you are completely in the clear as far as getting injured from swimming goes. The repetitive nature of swimming creates an opening for a possible swimming-related injury. One of the most common swimming injuries is swimmer’s shoulder. This happens when muscles and/or tendons that are used to rotate the shoulder become irritated or inflamed.
Work to try not to be a victim of swimmer’s shoulder! Here are some ways that can help to prevent one of the most common swimming injuries so you can avoid shoulder pain caused by swimming.
Practice swimming drills for good form
Good form prevents injuries. Good running form can help to prevent some common running injuries, good biking form (through a good bike fit!) can help to prevent some common cycling injuries, and good swimming form can help to prevent common swimming injuries! The best way to work towards proper swimming form is through incorporating swimming drills into every swim session.
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Warm up and cool down with easy swimming
Include 5 to 10 minutes of easy swimming before getting started on any intense training session as well as after you’ve worked those muscles hard. You want to prepare your muscles for the workout that’s coming, instead of just jumping right in.
Pre-swim (and post-swim!) stretching
Either as part of your warm-up or cool-down (or possibly both!), you can also incorporate some stretching of your upper body muscles that you engage while swimming. This can work well following your warm-up. Remember, when you swim you use more than just your shoulder muscles. It engages many of the muscles in your upper body including muscles of your upper back and side of your back to help you power through the water. Arm circles and shoulder rolls are good as a form of active stretching too.
It would be good to stretch after your cool-down swim as well! After you’re done with your training session, spend at least a couple of minutes stretching out the upper body. (Do this as you sit in the hot tub following your swim?) Yoga poses that work to open up the shoulders and work on the back are good poses for swimmers. (Do this while you’re in the sauna following your swim?) 🙂
Gradually increase your training
For many people training for a triathlon, swimming is often the discipline that is least focused on, and the least amount of days spent on. If life gets in the way, their swimming workout may be the first to go. This can lead to people wanting to make the most of every session and making their training session an intense interval workout.
Of course, interval workouts are a great way to increase your swimming endurance. Just be sure that before jumping into such intense interval workouts, you have built up to it so that your shoulders are adequately prepared for it. A strong upper body through strength training can help with this too.
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