Swimming Injuries

August 9, 2015 | By | Reply

Swimming is a very technical sport and swimming fast is a highly skilled activity.

What is the most common injury in swimmers and why?

  • Shoulder pain is the most common musculoskeletal injury of competitive swimmers
  • Incidence is highly variable in research – Prevalence: 40-90%
  • Commonly termed as ‘Swimmer’s Shoulder’
  • Average adolescent performs approximately 1 million strokes/year

The Shoulder is a delicate or unstable joint.


The ball is too big to sit snuggly in the socket, unless a specifically designed muscular system provides the stability to keep the ball of shoulder joint in the socket of shoulder blade i.e. The Rotator Cuff

Did you know that your shoulder blade only has one bony joint articulation where your collarbone (clavicle) attaches to the acromion (tip of shoulder blade) and it has no bony attachment to your arm? The rest of your attachments are muscular, which highlights the importance of retraining and strengthening of your shoulder muscles.

What is Swimmer’s Shoulder?
Swimmer’s shoulder is an umbrella term covering a range of painful shoulder overuse injuries that occur in swimmers. Because there are multiple parts of your shoulder that can be injured due to your swimming stroke, your pain can vary from a local pain near the shoulder joint to a pain that travels up your shoulder and neck or down into your arm. Being an overuse injury, it is caused by repeated trauma rather than a specific incident. Over 1/3rd of top level swimmers experience shoulder pain that prevents them from performing their normal training.


  • Over-training (load/volume of training)
  • Fatigue
  • Hypermobility
  • Muscle imbalances
  • Poor stroke technique
  • Weakness and tightness of specific muscles
  • Previous shoulder injury
  • Postural

Do you know if your…

  • Rotator cuff muscles have the balance (Certain muscles need to be 2/3rds as strong as others?)
  • Your shoulder blade is stable on which your shoulder moves?
  • Your Shoulder range of movement is good enough for efficient technique?
  • Incorrect technique can narrow the space of soft tissues and pinch it resulting in shoulder pain?

Can this injury be prevented?


  • Your physiotherapist can assess you, find your problem areas & suggest preventive measures.
  • They will also discuss your goals, time frames and training schedules for a complete return to swimming pain free.

The perfect outcome will have you performing at full speed, power, agility and function with minimised chances of future injury.

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