Despite being a low-impact exercise, swimmers are still prone to various forms of injuries in both the upper and lower extremities. Competitive swimmers perform highly repetitive motions and so overuse injuries of the shoulder, back, and knee can occur. The top tips to prevent such injuries could be strictly warming up before swimming exercises to stretch or loosen the muscles. Ensuring to use good technique and form and having ample rest after each session. The crucial thing that swimmers ought to remember is that it is never a good idea to overstrain the body if there is already an injury. Adequate physical therapy rehabilitation should be done for existing injuries. Let’s look at some of the common injuries affecting swimmers;
Swimmers Shoulder – It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the shoulder joint is the most commonly injured in swimmers. Repetitive microtrauma is probably the cause of shoulder pain and this comes by from overuse. Bicep tendonitis could be the common source of pain as the bicep tendon is key to movement in the limbs and in the case of swimmers there is repetitive motion of the arm and shoulder. Although tendons are tough, they are still prone to wear and tear injury. The pain will start in the front of the shoulder and down the arm. Rotator cuff impingement can also happen because of the pressure on the rotator cuff from the shoulder blade or scapula.
Hyperextension of the Lumbar Spine – Swimming puts a huge amount of stress on the spine and hence back injuries are quite common in swimmers. In butterfly and breaststroke there is stress on their lower back due to the power and range of motion required for kicking movements. Proper functionality of the lower back where the lumbar spine is located is necessary for this. Lower back pain and back spasms may be caused by the repetitive flexion and extension.
Swimmer’s Knee – Breaststroke is what mostly leads to this condition due to the frequent stress on the ligaments in the inner knee. The repetitive and powerful kicking motions may be the reason. The overextension of the ligament puts strain on the medial collateral ligament which is a tissue that runs along the inner edge of the knee. Some signs for swimmer’s knee could be instability of the knee, and pain along the inside of the knee.
Hip Inflammation – Again breaststroke may also cause hip inflammation in some swimmers because of the rotational kicking motion involved with the stroke. Overuse of the hip flexors can cause fatigue of the muscles leading 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 prone to lower back pain and hip impingement.
Neck Injuries – Significant strain on the neck can be brought about by swimming. This is possibly because of the contortion involved in keeping the head above the water during the breaststroke, or while rotating the neck to breathe during the freestyle stroke.
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