How to treat swimmers shoulder?

Swimming is one of the most enjoyable and refreshing sports out there. It’s a great way to stay in shape, relax and disconnect from everything else. But along with all these advantages, swimming also comes with some unfortunate side-effects; swimmers’ shoulder being one of them.

Swimmer’s shoulder or subacromial impingement syndrome (SIS) is an inflammatory condition caused by the excessive pressure on tendons and muscles around your shoulders while swimming. This pressure over time can cause annoying pain in your rotator cuff, limited range of motion, or possibly lead to tears.

As someone who loves swimming first-hand understands how frustrating this can be- not just because it limits their ability to enjoy themselves but also because it can lead to strain that sometimes lasts beyond recovery periods.

So let’s dive in and figure out how we can best take care of ourselves after long hours spent frolicking under water without developing swimmer’s shoulder!


Before you hit the pool: warm up! There’s nothing more counterproductive than jumping into cold (or worse yet- freezing!) water immediately after stretching for a few minutes tops—

An effective 15-minute warm-up routine will prepare both your body and mind for what lies ahead.

Get warmed slowly through light intensity cardiovascular exercises such as brisk walking or cycling followed by dynamic stretching:

  • Arm circles
  • Arm swings
  • Trunk rotations

Remember — no diving straight into intense workouts!

Correct Stroke Technique

A technique well done means half the work has been accomplished already.

The repetitive motion during a swim put‘s immense strain on our joints if performed incorrectly rendering us at risk for injuries like SIS/rotator cuff injuries even when held lightly underwater:

To prevent this:

  1. Focus on maintaining correct form throughout every session:
  2. Keep your elbows close and high
  3. Pull your shoulders back down and squeeze shoulder blades together as you move
  4. Create a smooth yet strong movement to gain balance
  5. Kick with your hips, not knees, without excessively pivoting or twisting

  6. Learn different strokes:

    • Integrate variety; alternate between freestyle, breaststroke, butterfly stroke, etc., while observing form and avoiding force of willful displacement.

Hand-Paddles & Kickboards

A common way to improve swimming strength is by incorporating equipment such as “hand-paddles” or “kickboards.” Although it might seem like an incredible idea for enhancing those swimming skills trust me when I say overuse can put excessive strain on your tendons.

The trick here is balance :

  • Using these tools occasionally only increases resistance levels requiring some extra muscle work resulting in stronger muscles.
  • Overdoing the method could bring about disproportionate tension—increase reps gradually.

Roller Massage

Massage everything! We’re all familiar with foam-rolling techniques on our thighs after a long run but what about our upper bodies? Don’t leave anyone out!

Roller bar massage around clavicular area:

  1. Lie face down vertically across roller stick horizontally aligned through collarbone
    2 Slowly roll up then back causing point pressure during application
    3 Track movements from top of sternum to end reaching acromion (fancy word for bone covering top shaft of humerus- rarely have we found a reason to use this fancy word)

Tip: Massaging isn’t limited only sittings—grab someone(someone who knows what they’re doing) friendly enough near pool lanes similar conversation interests and treat yourself (and them if need be).

Note: Ensure substituting massages with qualified therapists does not entirely substitute medical attention required when experiencing discomfort prolonged periods.

The Dreaded Ice-Pack Method — Time Management

We won’t lie ice packs aren’t most of our favorite things to do after a good swim but trust us here it’s worth it.

Have ice pack prepared prior and frozen- An extra dose of patience——application 13 minutes per time in swift rounds of cycles with reference to Fahrenheit:

0:00-3:12 > Apply for three minutes |- – -|
3:12 – 6:24> : Remove for two (2) mins|-|
6.25-9.36 > Apply again for 3mins |- – -|
10.37–13+ preference duration: On, as desired.

  • Ensure leaving a minimum twenty (20) minute intervals between each cycle of therapy.
  • Ditch the timer notifications if you’ve caught more interesting company around pool on this day!

Strength Training

Strength training generally improves flexibility, strength and mobility overall reducing likelihood of developing swimmer’s shoulder/tendon soreness secondary prolonged strain.

  1. Resistance band stretch:
  2. Straighten your elbow holding an elastic band behind your back around waist level with palm facing outwards.
  3. Move uninvolved hand forward stretching arm towards opposite hip while bending elbow flexion slowly
  4. Range repetition w/o concerning discomfort adverse reaction among mechanical interference

2 . Scapular Retraction
Scapular retraction exercise is an effective method that involves the following steps:

 Lie face down with arms extended in “T” formation or at angle slightly below so much that head doesn't interfere.
 Raise hands past your hips/turn palms upward pointing knives away from midline when lifted directing thumbs towards sky 
 Gently raise shoulders off ground until touched by little blades just above and squeeze one another keeping swaying active <br>

Tip : Difficulty performing scapular retraction? Ask a nearby trainer/bestie(surely someone who fits this description).


Rest: Many people find it challenging to take a break and let their body recover properly, pressing on with increased activity even after feeling initial joint soreness. To avoid worsening the issue:

  • Limit frequency of swimming sessions only allowing for adequate recovery time (2-4days/week)
  • Do not increase exercise duration and intensity beyond longtime stamina.
  • Refrain from resorting sedentary lifestyle measures such as remaining seated or slouched for prolonged hours post workout period

In Conclusion

In essence, treating swimmer’s shoulder involves maintaining good swim techniques coupled with reasonable prevention / treatment routines when required. Listening to your body is key in facilitating recovery periods and ensuring safe transitions into optimum performance levels: everything else falls into place along the way!

Remember, proper rest , fluid intake(refer common sense!) & well-balanced nutrition coupled moderate strength training are instrumental adjuncts supporting shorter recovery periods——Helpful tips for anyone planning to remain lifelong swimmers!

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