Prevent Swimming Injuries Through Physiotherapy

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Prevent Swimming Injuries Through Physiotherapy

Unlike recreational swimmers, competitive swimmers are subjected to long and hard hours of training, which can lead to injuries that are difficult to recover from if ignored. 


The most common injuries typically involve the muscles used in the repetitive movement needed in swimming. That said, below are some possible injuries that one might encounter upon swimming. 


  1. Swimmer’s shoulder comprises 90% of all swimming injuries reported. This is no surprise as the arm and shoulders are the most used body parts for a swimmer. When the swimmer has improper shoulder regulation and motion, such as when the shoulders are weak, the risk for straining and damaging the muscles in the shoulder increases, shoulder injuries can sometimes appear as pain in the elbow and hip. Other types of shoulder injuries can lead to the swimmer being unable to lift or rotate his shoulder. 
  2. A swimmer’s neck can result from an untreated shoulder injury. This is because the neck typically has to compensate for a weakened shoulder. The lifting of the head above water or the repetitive turning of the head to breathe can strain and stress the small muscles of the neck. 
  3. Swimmer’s knee is common among breaststroke swimmers due to the “whip kick” action needed to propel the swimmer forward. It can manifest as pain and tenderness in the knee cap or swelling and pain when squatting or kicking. 
  4. Swimming also increases the susceptibility to injuries in the hips, lower back, wrist, hand, foot, and ankle due to the awkward and unnatural position of the body during training.


Unfortunately, swimming injuries are quite easy to miss, unlike other sports injuries. Many swimmers attribute the body pains they experience after training to simple fatigue. Few people realize that swimming injuries are caused by poor shoulder regulation, poor breathing, limited flexibility, decreased strength in the shoulder blades, poor core strength, and decreased strength in the hip muscles – the same issues that repetitive training hopes to address. Can you imagine injuries getting better by doing the same activities that caused the injuries in the first place?


The problem with this is that if one part of the body is injured during training, it can injure other parts. If injuries are left untreated for a long time, they can even cause debilitating pains that could end a competitive swimmer’s career. 


If there is anything you should take away from this article, it is this: do not ignore body pains after training. Even better, make sure to take precautionary steps to prevent swimming injuries. For this, physiotherapy may be your best bet. 


Physiotherapy Protocols For Preventing And Treating Swimming Injuries

Range of Motion (ROM) Exercises

For the early stages of injury, rest is still the best solution. However, prolonged inactivity could delay, or worse, prevent, healing. Hence, physiotherapists recommend ROM exercises to promote movement in injured body parts. These exercises encourage flexibility and circulation. 


For those who are not yet injured, physiotherapists can develop needs-specific programs to help improve a swimmer’s strength, endurance, and body stability, preventing injuries during training. For example, shoulder and back stretches can help prevent swimmer’s shoulders. Meanwhile, exercise bands before training can build up flexibility, strength and improve a swimmer’s functional movements.


Soft Tissue Mobilization

If you are experiencing body pains after training, one of the best ways to relieve them is through soft tissue mobilization, more commonly referred to as therapeutic massage. Therapeutic massages can reduce swelling in inflamed joints and relax tired muscles. It also improves blood circulation in the affected area, promoting overnight recovery and restoring strength for training. 

Cryotherapy and Heat Therapy

Other ways to relax stiff muscles are cryotherapy and heat therapy. These are typically used for the treatment of knee pains.  

Kinesio Taping

Kinesio taping stabilizes affected muscles and joints, enabling swimmers to move these parts without causing more muscle and tissue damage. This treatment, however, is used for the final stages of recovery and is typically used in conjunction with other physiotherapy protocols. 

Electrical Stimulation

For those experiencing searing pain, some physiotherapists may recommend using electrical stimulation for immediate relief. The mild electrical currents administered to the body through the electrode pads connected to the skin stimulate sensory nerves and alleviate pain from inflamed muscles or tissues. 


Please note that prevention and early treatment are key when it comes to swimming injuries! Don’t wait until the pain becomes excessive before consulting a physiotherapist. It is best to support training, whether you are a beginner who is still learning from swimming lessons or an expert swimmer competing in swimming tournaments, with physiotherapy to ensure that you are at top performance every training day. 


In addition to that, remember that the number one cause of swimming injuries is overtraining, which happens when you exceed your body’s capacity. Try to exceed your limits gradually by keeping track of your repetitions and monitoring your training intensity. Pay attention to your body to know your limits. Have enough rest and complement it with a proper diet. 


To sum it up, suppose you make sure to complement your training with physiotherapy programs that are designed to improve your body’s capacity. In that case, you can prevent injury while maintaining and consistently increasing your training intensity. 

We recommend visiting the Unique Rehab and Physiotherapy to discuss your condition with our licensed and qualified physiotherapists so that they can make a comprehensive treatment protocol developed especially for your needs.

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