Swimming injuries account for thousands of visits to hospitals and doctor's offices each year and can deceptively contribute to a variety of injuries just like any other physical activity. Beginning a swimming program or integrating swimming as a way to get in shape is a great low impact activity that is generally less stressful on joints, but can still cause a variety of injuries. Before you take your next dip in the pool or lake, take a look at some of our tips to avoid swimming injuries.
There are several common swimming injuries that a patient could experience based on overuse, poor swimming mechanics or form, and physical trauma like hitting the water from a steep height. Some common swimming injuries include rotator cuff tendonitis, shoulder impingement, shoulder labral tears (the joint socket), inflamed shoulders and shoulder joints, bicep tendonitis, neck pain, back pain, and knee injuries.
Swimming is like any other type of physical activity where if you train too often and don't give your body enough recovery time to heal properly, you're setting yourself up for an injury. The leading cause of swimming injuries is due to overuse and improper form. Swimming can be a great exercise because you need to engage your entire body during the workout but it also means that you can sustain an injury in plenty of different areas from the total body workout. In addition to overuse and not giving your body adequate periods of rest, other leading contributors for swimming injuries include bad swimming mechanics, poor strength in your core, hips, shoulders, back, and other supporting muscles.
Anybody can experience a swimming injury which is why it can be beneficial to understand how they happen, the kinds of injuries patients can sustain, and some key ways to ensure that you're doing all you can to avoid future swimming injuries. Before going for your next swim or beginning a new exercise or stretching program, you should consult with a qualified healthcare professional or licensed physical therapist. Take a look at some of the following top tips to avoid swimming injuries before your next swim.
One of the most important things you can do before going for your next swim is to make sure that you are properly warming up and stretching beforehand. Stretching using dynamic stretches pre-workout can help you avoid straining muscles before they are ready. Post-workout static stretches can help you stay loose and limber and keep your muscles healthy for your next swim session. Warming up before your next swim will also give you a chance to let your body know that you're going to need it to perform and it should get ready to workout.
The next great way to avoid swimming injuries is to make sure that you're addressing any type of muscular imbalance that could contribute to a swimming injury down the road. Even though it's considered a low-impact exercise, swimming can still put your body through the wringer when it comes to all the strain you place on it and its’ supporting structures. That is why it is so essential to make sure that you're doing all you can to address muscle imbalances with functional exercises to create foundational strength that your body can rely on when you're trying to increase your ability to swim longer and faster. It's important to remember that you need to focus on building strength throughout your entire body because you'll rely on it while you're swimming. By working with a licensed physical therapist at a PT clinic near you, you can work to address those muscle imbalances which could have potentially caused an injury.
As you look to add swimming into your normal workout routine, you should focus on gradually increasing the workload you place on your body. A few things to monitor as you're looking to increase the intensity of your swimming workout is the duration and pace at which you swim. In the same way you would work to build up to a marathon race, you should focus on building your strength and the supporting muscles to swim longer and faster.
Another way to avoid swimming injuries is to always be mindful of your surroundings and other people who might be swimming near you. Depending on the area you're swimming in, there could be obstacles and people that could accidentally bump into you or cause you to injure yourself while swimming. When swimming, make sure that you're aware of what others are doing and where you're located so that you don't accidentally sustain an injury that could've easily been avoided. In addition, try to maximize your visibility by wearing swim goggles so you can see where you're going. Make sure that the area you're swimming in is also wide and safe enough to ensure that you have enough room to swim at your own leisure.
Plenty of swimming injuries occur every year because of improper form and technique. When swimming, you want to avoid putting any types of undue strain on your muscles and their supporting structures for extended periods of time which can happen if you're swimming with the wrong form. To get the most out of your swim, you might want to consult with a swimming instructor who can help you correct techniques that could be contributing to your poor swimming form. A poor swimming technique can also develop when you're trying to accommodate for existing pain, or muscular and structural imbalances. This is why it is essential to focus on alleviating pain and other contributing factors with a physical therapist to spot other areas that could cause you to swim with an improper technique to prevent future injuries. When swimming, you should focus on swimming with a technique and swimming style that you're comfortable with. For example, you don't have to be an Olympic swimmer to get a good workout in. If you're only comfortable doing the freestyle stroke, then focus on getting better at it over time. Don't put your body in an uncomfortable position because you're trying to swim with a new stroke that you're not ready for.
The next tip to avoid swimming injuries is to avoid overdoing it. Swimming can be a great workout, but as with all types of training, you should also prioritize rest and recovery. Your body will need time to heal and recover after the full-body workout it gets from a swim. As you begin to incorporate swimming into your normal workout routine, you should try to give your body a few days rest after each swim. If you feel like you've sustained an injury, stop swimming and consult with a licensed physical therapist or another qualified healthcare professional. When you push your body too far too fast, you're setting yourself up for a potential injury.
Swimming injuries are just one of many sports-related injuries that can occur if you're not careful. Our licensed PTs can help you recover from a swimming injury, alleviate your pain, and build functional strength that will help you avoid swimming injuries. If you're experiencing pain from a swimming injury or other sports-related injury, schedule an appointment today at a PT clinic near you to connect with a physical therapist who will work with you.