Shoulder Pain While Swimming?

If you live around Sarasota Florida or if you come here seasonally, being able to take advantage of the nations top ranked beaches is an extra perk. Having “pool weather” or “beach weather” and being able to swim regularly can really help you live a healthy lifestyle. Swimming is considered by many not only as exercise but also as a form of relaxation. The team at Back In Motion Sarasota Physical Therapy considers swimming to be a great way to strengthen the heart by getting some ‘cardio exercise’. Swimming is a great way to have fun but be wary, excessive swimming can cause shoulder pain. The repetitive use of the shoulder with the stroke movement can cause overuse in some cases.

Swimming requires repetitive motion, so therefore it can cause strain on the muscles & ligaments surrounding the shoulder region. Rotator cuff tendonitis (also known as “Swimmer’s Shoulder”) is a repetitive stress injury to the tendons of the shoulder. The inflammation to the tendons is called “swimmer’s shoulder” due to the particular motion with the freestyle stroke while swimming. That movement can cause inflammation in the rotator cuff tendons with the repeated performance of the pull through & recovery parts of the swimming stroke. Shoulder pain while swimming is a common problem we see as Physical Therapists in Sarasota Florida. Swimming can be an enjoyable & healthy way to get exercise, but all swimmers should self-monitor to prevent injuries.

If you like to swim, chances are that you have experienced some pain or discomfort in or around the shoulder region. If you are one of the many swimmers to have an achy shoulder or worse yet, if your shoulder pain prevents you from swimming, don’t worry. We can offer fast acting swimmer’s shoulder solutions and promote a healing of the underlying tissue at a remarkably fast rate. We can also look at your swimming stroke technique and get to the root of the problem so you can get back to doing the things you love to do.

Do I Have Swimmer’s Shoulder?

Both professional & non-professional swimmers can acquire swimmer’s shoulder due to body mechanics involving the motion of the shoulders during swimming. The #1 sign of swimmer’s shoulder: pain in the front or back of the shoulder. The pain gets worse during overhead reaching, just like those performed during swimming. The more a person performs this overhead reaching movement or swims, the more intense the inflammation & discomfort can become.

Here are some other signs & symptoms of a swimmer’s shoulder to be aware of: forward shoulders while you are sitting, discomfort in the shoulder region during other types of swimming, limited range of motion, the affected shoulder may have less power and strength, & excessive joint play or joint “looseness”. Do not delay. When you get these signs and symptoms, seek advice from our team at Back In Motion Sarasota Physical Therapy to prevent permanent damage. A physical therapist is qualified to confirm swimmers shoulder. Remember, you do not have to be a swimmer to have swimmer’s shoulder.

Swimmer’s shoulder can be treated & even prevented. See below for ways to treat swimmer’s shoulder:

  1. Modify your activity. Take a break from swimming. Rest for a while. If a particular movement causes shoulder pain, do NOT do it.
  2. After any acute flare up, or after activity: Apply ICE to the shoulder for 20 minutes. This promotes decreased inflammation in the painful area. A bag of frozen peas works well because it will conform to the contours of the shoulder.
  3. As your shoulder recovers, increase the intensity of swimming gradually. Do not return too soon or too intensely.
  4. Change the way you swim. The shoulder pain was likely caused by improper form. Proper technique with each stroke is essential.
  5. Another ways to decrease inflammation is to take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as Ibuprofen (after consulting with your doctor).

Swimmer’s shoulder treatment & recovery time varies based on many factors, this is why it’s important to get a physical therapist who is an expert in treatment of the shoulder and with swimmer’s shoulder treatment.

The team at Back In Motion Sarasota Physical Therapy will focus on getting to the root of the problem, & choose the best swimmer’s shoulder treatment.

Our PT’s can help create a plan to make your shoulder pain go away forever. Contact us today at (941) 925-2700 & we will schedule an appointment for you with our shoulder treatment specialist. Do not delay, the longer you wait the more serious your problem may become.

About the Author Tim Burnell, PT

Tim Burnell is the Lead Physical Therapist at Back In Motion Sarasota. He has over two decades of clinical experience. He takes pride in getting to the root of the problem which helps get his clients better...Faster! He is a family man & enjoys spending time with the love of his life, Monique. He has 2 children & a dog named Annie. Tim's son, Andre' is 11 years old and his daughter Joliebelle (nicknamed Pooky) is 7 years old. He enjoys visiting his wife's side of the family in New Orleans and his side of the family in Vermont. Tim grew up in Vermont, went to Physical Therapy School in Alabama, got his first job at Tulane Hospital in New Orleans and moved to Sarasota Florida after Hurricane Katrina in 2006.

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