Sunday, 15 September 2013

Swimming Injuries: Swimmer's Shoulder - 7 Stretches to Help Prevent Swimmer's Shoulder

Source:  Nicholas Institute of Sports Medicine and Athletic Trauma

What is swimmer's shoulder?

Swimmer's shoulder is an inflammatory condition caused by the mechanical impingement of soft tissue against the coracoacromial arch. This condition is most often caused by the repetitive overhead arm motion of the freestyle stroke. The pain associated with swimmer's shoulder may be caused by two different sources of impingement in the shoulder. [Read about shoulder anatomy]
One type of impingement occurs during the pull-through phase of freestyle. The pull-through phase begins when the hand enters the water and terminates when the arm has completed pulling through the water and begins to exit the surface.
At the beginning of pull-through, termed hand-entry, if a swimmer's hand enters the water across the mid-line of her body this will place the shoulder in a position of horizontal adduction which mechanically impinges the long head of the biceps against the anterior part of the coracoacromial arch.
A second type of impingement may occur during the recovery phase of freestyle. The recovery phase is the time of the stroke cycle when the arm is exiting the water and lasts until that hand enters the water again.
As a swimmer fatigues it will become more difficult for her to lift her arm out of the water, and the muscles of the rotator cuff which work to externally rotate and depress the head of the humerus against the glenoid become less efficient.
When these muscles are not working properly the supraspinatus muscle will be mechanically impinged between the greater tuberosity of the humerus and the middle and posterior portions of the coracoacromial arch.  These two repetitive use injuries can result in painful swimmer's shoulder.

Why do swimmers get swimmer's shoulder?
  • Poor swimming technique.
  • Over training can lead to shoulder pain if the swimmer continues to swim with fatigued muscles Unilateral breathing may also cause swimmer's shoulder.
  • Overuse of certain training equipment may cause shoulder pain.
  • Using a kickboard with arms fully extended in front of the swimmer can place the shoulder in a position of impingement.

7 Stretches to Help Prevent Swimmers Shoulder
1.  Tricep stretch:
Begin by raising your arm directly over your head with your palm facing front. Bend your elbow and try to reach the shoulder blade on the same side of you body. Use your opposite arm to push your elbow back.

2.  Doorway stretch:
Begin by placing your elbow against the frame of a door. Keep the angle between your trunk and your arm at 90 deg. Rest your forearms against the door frame. Step forward with one foot to feel the stretch.

3.  Infraspinatus stretch:
Extend your arm out directly in front of you and bend your elbow across your body. With your other hand gently pull your elbow across your body.

4.  Levator scapulae stretch:
Begin by placing one arm as in the first part of the triceps stretch. Look towards your opposite hip and use you free hand to gently pull your head towards your hip.

5.  Upper trapezius stretch:
Lean your head to the side trying to bring your ear towards your shoulder without lifting your shoulder.

6.  Latissimus dorsi stretch:
Raise both arms overhead and place palms together interlocking fingers. At shoulders lift arms upwards with fingers remaining intertwined.

7.  Axial extension:
Pull your chin down and backwards as if trying to make a double chin.


  1. That's true! Wrong swimming techniques can lead you to frozen shoulder or pain. Frozen Shoulder is stiffness, pain, and limited range of movement in your shoulder .Frozen shoulder can develop when you stop using the joint normally because of pain, injury, or a chronic health condition, such as diabetes or a stroke. One of the most popular way of getting a frozen shoulder is swimming. Most people with frozen shoulder will eventually get better, even without treatment. However, appropriate frozen shoulder treatment can help reduce pain and improve the movement in your shoulder until it heals. So consult doctor asap as the type of treatment you receive will depend on how severe your frozen shoulder is and how far it has progressed. Thanks.

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