Swimmer's Shoulder: Prevention and Injury Location

Swimmer’s Shoulder: Prevention and Injury Location

Diagram of decrease in range of motion from shoulder injury

Could your shoulder pain be a condition known as swimmer’s shoulder? The large repetitive motions that your shoulders must perform while swimming can cause pain under certain circumstances:

  • There are problems with your stroke mechanics
  • You tend to overtrain or don’t take sufficient time to recover
  • Muscle conditioning is imbalanced in your shoulders or other areas of your body

Repeated overhead reaching in sports like weightlifting and climbing can also cause swimmer’s shoulder symptoms. If you think you may be suffering from swimmer’s shoulder, you can learn more by reading this guide from the team at IMPACT Physical Therapy & Sports Recovery. We’ll cover what you should know about diagnosis, common symptoms, treatment options, and how to prevent swimmer’s shoulder in the future.

What is Swimmer’s Shoulder?

If any of the conditions outlined above are at play, the tendons in your shoulders can become inflamed and swollen. Tendons are tissues that connect bones to muscles, and when swollen, they can press on the bones, muscles, and tendons around them. If you cannot move your shoulder through its normal range of motion without pain, it’s possible you could be suffering from swimmer’s shoulder or shoulder impingement syndrome.

Swimmer’s shoulder pain is typically located at the front and along the sides of the shoulder joint, but the exact location of the pain will vary depending on which tendons are inflamed. The pain tends to develop gradually over time, and you will usually feel it when raising your arms. Dull, aching pain may be present all the time and exacerbated by activities that involve your arms.

Swimmer’s Shoulder Symptoms

How can you tell if the issue you’re dealing with is the swimmer’s shoulder? Pain location may vary between the front or back of the shoulder joint, but you’ll experience the same symptoms:

  • Pain that feels deeply set in the shoulder muscles
  • Easily fatigued muscles or unusual muscle weakness
  • Reduced range of motion or painful motion with overhead reaching

How to Prevent Swimmer’s Shoulder

The first thing you’ll need to do is resolve the inflammation in your tendons. One way to achieve this is with modified rest from painful activities. Utilizing anti-inflammatory techniques including icing the shoulder or taking oral anti-inflammatory medication can oftentimes do the trick.  Physical Therapy can also help to reduce pain and speed up healing through targeted stretching and strength building exercises.

Find Out How Physical Therapy Can Reduce Symptoms of  Swimmer’s Shoulder 

Don’t let swimming shoulder injuries keep you out of the water! Physical therapy is very effective at reducing pain and strengthening your shoulder to prevent swimmer’s shoulder in the future. Schedule your first PT visit with IMPACT Physical Therapy & Sports Recovery at one of our Chicagoland facilities to learn more today.