What is Swimmer’s Shoulder and How to Prevent It

We’ve often been taught that it’s great to move our bodies as much as we can during each day. Even though this is true and is a great way to improve health, there can always be too much of anything. And too many healthy things like vitamins or too much exercise can also cause more harm than good.

One condition that pops up from excessive use of shoulder joints and muscles is known as Swimmer’s Shoulder. This issue affects the shoulder muscles, bones, and almost the entire rotator cuff. A rotator cuff is basically a group of muscles and tendons that allow us to move our shoulders in various ways. Swimmer’s Shoulders involves swollen and inflamed tendons that start pressing upon other muscles and bones in the shoulder.

In this article, we’re going to cover what exactly Swimmer’s Shoulder is, how it occurs, how to prevent or treat it, and a few other ways for helping anyone suffering from this.

What Causes Swimmer’s Shoulder?

person swimming on body of water

Above anything else, Swimmer’s Shoulder is known as a musculoskeletal condition, meaning it has something to do with both muscles and the bones in the area it affects. The condition is called this because it usually occurs in swimmers. A study done by the North American Journal of Sports Physical Therapy shows that one third of professional and competitive swimmers have been known to suffer from this.

To avoid any misunderstandings, this issue can occur in almost anyone, not just swimmers. It’s called this because they are most likely to develop it due to their overuse of the shoulders. Competitive swimmers rely on their shoulders a lot, and they definitely use them more than the average person. These swimmers can even swim up to 9 miles in a single training session. It goes to show that it takes more than just putting on some of the best swimming goggles and getting inside the pool.

The most common reason why Swimmer’s Shoulder can occur is generally overusing the shoulder muscles. However, you don’t have to overuse them to develop the condition, as misuse is just as likely to cause the problem as well. This is where the part about too much of anything is usually bad makes sense. This condition is also known as shoulder impingement and is known to also cause trouble to baseball players, tennis players, and generally, anyone who puts way too much pressure on their shoulders and the rotator cuff.

Swimmer’s Shoulder Symptoms

Anyone who goes to the gym regularly or is involved in any type of activity that puts a bit more strain on the shoulder has probably experienced some kind of shoulder pain once or twice. This usually goes away after a while of rest. Swimmer’s Shoulder may also go away with enough rest in mild cases. However, severe cases can experience even more damage if left untreated. The main symptoms that may be trying to warn you of Swimmer’s Shoulder include:

  • Shoulder Pain
  • A weakness of the muscle and fatigue
  • Shoulder Instability
  • Reduced range of shoulder motion

If you experience any of these issues for abnormal periods of time the best thing to do is to go to the doctor and get it checked out. The way Swimmer’s Shoulder is diagnosed involves a physical exam. The doctor will press on different areas of the shoulder to feel for any abnormalities. If they believe the situation to be more severe, an X-Ray may also be needed to test for further injuries.

How to Prevent Swimmer’s Shoulder?

person swimming in pool

Before any methods of prevention can be laid out for any type of problem, we first need to understand what the consequences can be and what this issue usually affects most. After knowing the problems Swimmer’s Shoulder can cause we can finally be able to learn and put to use ways of preventing such consequences.

Among the simplest and best advice anyone can get for preventing the shoulder impingement condition is to stop putting so much pressure on their shoulders. However, this can mean changing one’s lifestyle and everything they’ve worked for. It’s hard for many to give up their way of life, especially before such a problem has even occurred.

Another way of preventing this is to make sure that you’re using your shoulder muscles correctly while avoiding any injuries that might make the problem appear sooner. For swimmers or other athletes, this includes fixing their techniques, stretching thoroughly before training, and doing proper exercise for training their shoulders. The stronger they become the harder it will be for any injuries.

How to Treat Swimmer’s Shoulder?

If it’s too late to take measures to prevent Swimmer’s Shoulder, there is always something you can do in order to minimize its effects and to treat it. If the condition is not too severe, you can start by practicing a few Swimmer’s Shoulder exercises to loosen the pain and improve the condition. This includes mainly in-pool exercise but there are a few that you can do at the gym or even at home that focus on treating your shoulder impingement.

Other, more direct ways of treating the issue involve a few different methods of more physical therapy and even steroid injections. It’s important to treat the issue as soon as it is detected, as the problems won’t simply end here if left untreated. Usually, doctor recommended anti-inflammatory supplements will do the job.

What Happens if You Don’t Treat Swimmer’s Shoulder?

Usually, this condition is noticed and felt almost immediately. Even if someone wanted to proceed with their intense training they wouldn’t be able to because of the pain in their shoulders. With enough rest and the proper anti-inflammatory aid, the issue should go away within a few days.

On the other hand, if the pain doesn’t stop and the inflammation doesn’t calm, other measures may need to be taken. Leaving Swimmer’s Shoulder untreated can prove even more harmful. In some cases, this can lead to labral or rotator cuff tears. In rare cases, surgery may be the only way to fix the issue. This can happen if the problem was left untreated for too long or if it escalated too quickly. But, it rarely gets to that.

About The Author

AthletePath Staff

We are a team of enthusiasts and professional athletes thriving to provide you with helpful advice on buying everything you may ever need to become a better athlete.

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