Cameron Bayliss takes a look at swimming and the common injuries associated with this fantastic sport.
The weather is warming up and a dip in the pool is looking more and more tantalising.
Firstly I’d like to encourage swimming across all populations, it’s a fantastic way to exercise without putting extreme pressure through our ankles hips and knees in particular. It has great benefits for our heart and lungs as well as our muscles and joints. You don’t need to be able to swim 10km to get benefit from swimming, even walking around the pool is far better than doing nothing at all! If you are elderly or have had any heart or lung problems, I strongly encourage you to visit your GP before undertaking any strenuous exercise.
But with any exercise there’s always a chance for injury so today I thought I’d touch on a few common injuries we see in clinic from the casual swimmer, the early morning everyday swimmer or the competitive swimmer.
What injuries do we see?
Due to the repetitive nature of swimming we commonly see overuse injuries such as :
- Shoulder tendinopathies
- Shoulder girdle pain
- Impingement of the shoulder
- Upper back pain
- Neck pain with or without headaches
- Hip Pain
- Lower back pain
What causes these injuries?
- As mentioned above, the repetitive nature of swimming can cause impingement in the shoulder girdle.
- With inadequate recovery our tendons can’t completely recover in time for the next swim, the gradual increase in strain over time can lead to weakness through shoulder motion, pain with movement and eventually make it difficult to swim altogether.
- Breathing to one side. This repetitive motion can cause neck pain and upper back pain in particular.
- Are you rotating your shoulders so that your thumb is entering the water first? Is your shoulder crossing the mid-line of your body? These are both small things that can lead to niggly shoulders.
- You may not realise, but we need mobility through our thoracic spine to allow our body to roll through the stroke, without this roll a lot of pressure and strain goes through your shoulder girdle to finish the stroke.
- Trunk strength from our glutes to our fingers is needed for efficient technique. This helps keep our trunk stable and on top of the water, not sagging in creating more resistance.
- Are you kicking with your glutes? Or are you using your quads too much?
What can we do to help?
- We can assess your body movements.
- Help treat your back and shoulder pain.
- Provide you with strengthening and mobility exercises.
- Concerned about a tendinopathy? Have one of our osteopaths assess it to see if you’re a candidate for our new shockwave machine!
If you haven’t swam all winter and are ready to jump back into the pool, trying to pick up where you left off from March, please consider easing back into the sport to prevent injury! This goes for anything, running, jumping, footy, netball and cricket. You’re much more likely to hurt yourself in the early stages due to deconditioning and rapid increase in workload.