Swimming with Sharks!

Ok, so now I have your attention 🤣 Lets talk about shoulder pain and swimming 😁

Throughout May we are going to be concentrating on the shoulder and in this series of blogs I will look at some of the common problems relating to both everyday activities and sports.

So, let's start with an activity close to my heart, swimming. As many of you will know, I am trying to reverse a child induced lack of fitness, by entering the Dart 10k in September.

The most common swimming injuries we treat in the clinic are related to front crawl and are always impingement issues, bicep strain or non specific shoulder pain, sadly we see a lot.

When we use a high elbow in the recovery phase of front crawl and then drive our arm into the centre line, we close up the space available between the head of the humerus and the acromion process. This results in excess rubbing or trapping in the soft tissues surrounding the joint, this is impingement syndrome. Once those soft tissues have been aggravated they become inflamed, which means they now keep getting impinged as the swelling occurs in an already limited joint space. 😖

Rest, ice, technique coaching and reduced training volume are often offered up as a solution, but what is being missed here is that the very nature of front crawl requires you to use the chest and the front of the shoulders heavily. Mix that then with a tendency for modern life to cause most people's shoulders to roll forward and before we even swim, we have reduced that joint space! Add an intense training programme on and things quickly become an issue. So what can you do to prevent this occurring.🤔


Establish if your shoulders are actually protracted in every day life. There are plenty of pictures of protracted shoulders on the internet, or SEND US a side view photo of you and we will tell you.


As swimming crawl uses the muscles that cause protraction, make sure you take some gym time to work the muscles that create the opposite movement, retraction, to balance it out. Exercises such as seated rows and reverse fly's are a good starting point. A healthy dose of back stroke at the end of a session also helps open the front of the body back out.

Third; and perhaps most importantly:

Are you racing? Is speed your most important aim? If not, then why use a sprint style stroke which requires a technique that increases protraction issues. If all out speed is not your pursuit, then try introducing a little more body rotation, lower the high elbow, try a flatter entry with the hand, rather than entering with the hand turned on its side. Also, on entry, rather than driving the hands forward into the centre line, try placing them straight ahead and keeping them hip width apart. This is hard to describe, but have a look at the 'Ocean Walker' technique on You Tube as one example of this style of hand and arm entry.

Why not have a look at some of the open water and long distance swimming techniques on You Tube, quite a few aim to reduce these forces over the shoulder.

If pursuit of speed is your goal; then apply points one and two above.

If you are unsure if your shoulders are in a healthy position, just SEND US a photo of yourself standing side on and we will let you know.

Finally, it's not just swimming. Any sport that requires a repeated arm action, especially overhead, will result in problems if your shoulder are protracted.

Protracted neck and shoulders is so common, that next week we will look at some sneaky strategies for stopping it happening in the first place. 👏

Happy and injury free swimming 🏊‍♂️

#swimming #swimmingtechnique #ianreinge #thereingeclinic #trainers #swimmers #openwaterswimming #triathlon #bristol #birmingham


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