Technique always Matters
Statistics show that 66% of competitive swimmers will have a shoulder injury in their lifetime. The average avid swimmer completes well over a million shoulder rotations per arm within a given year. Improper technique is the leading cause of injury. Some soreness is generally acceptable, however, pain experienced during the swim that tends to linger following workout sessions warrants attention. Take the time to work with a coach and learn proper technique. Your endurance strength should allow for maintenance of technique throughout workouts and competition. Examples of poor technique leading to injury include: arms crossing over midline, “snaking”, inconsistent kick beats, limited or excessive body roll and over rotating the shoulders reaching beyond normal range.
It is essential that you incorporate a sound dryland training program. For long-term bone health, weight-bearing exercise is essential, which unfortunately, you can’t get in the pool – balance dryland with pool time.
Allow for a dynamic warm-up including swim at your preferred speed. Integrate several different strokes to promote better muscle activation and overall balance.
Alternate easy and hard training sessions.
Protect Those Shoulders
Building strength in the following areas will help protect against undue strain and overuse:
- The muscles that attach to and control the dynamic movement of the shoulder blade.
- The most common muscles to be strengthened for swimmers are the serratus anterior, subscapularis, lower trapezius and external rotators.
As with all other sports, stretching is useful when appropriate on a limited basis. Too much or unnecessary stretching can exacerbate sports imjuries, particularly shoulder problems.
The most common areas of tightness in swimmers is the posterior capsule of the shoulder and the pectoral muscles.
Finally, the core or trunk includes muscles of the back, abdominals and hips. Strength here can avoid muscular imbalances, weakness and repetitive strain elsewhere.
The following resources may also be of help to you:
USA Swimming has some great resources in their Tips & Training section: www.usaswimming.org
AAOS - Swimming Injury Prevention: orthoinfo.aaos.org