Swimming is a great form of exercise, and on top of that it’s fun! Given that swimming has so many benefits to our bodies we believe it shouldn’t only be restricted to your holidays…
These benefits range from:
- Improving cardiovascular fitness
- Increasing endurance
- Building muscle strength
- Toning muscles
- Burning fat
- Positively impacting your mental health
- Promoting quality of sleep
However, despite all of these benefits, you may still find yourself asking if swimming is for you. Today, we’re going to talk you through the frequently asked questions surrounding swimming and the possible injuries you can incur if you swim incorrectly.
What if I have joint pain, can I still go swimming?
As you can see there are a vast number of benefits from swimming. In addition to these, swimming is a great option if you are having joint pain issues. This will allow you to strengthen the muscles around your joints without having to put stress on the joints. Once the muscles around your joints are stronger, this will reduce the pain you are experiencing. It is always advisable to see a Health Care Professional before taking up a new form of exercise. They are best placed with the knowledge and experience to guide you in how to get started safely to avoid injury.
Can I get injured swimming?
The benefits of swimming significantly outweigh the risk of injury. If approached in a sensible manner the risk of injury is lowered even more. However, you can get injured swimming and the common injuries our superb physiotherapist team see and treat successfully are:
- Swimmer’s shoulder – This generally presents with pain at the front of the shoulder or the top of your arm. The exact diagnosis of your injury would require the input of Health Care Professional and some of the common pathologies are:
- Rotator cuff injury
- Shoulder impingement
- Bicep tendon injury
- Labral tears
- Swimmer’s knee – This generally presents with pain on the inner aspect of your knee and commonly associated with those that use breast stroke. There are several structures which can cause this pain, The exact diagnosis of your injury would require the input of Health Care Professional and some of the common pathologies are:
- Medial collateral ligaments tear
- Medial plica inflammation or fibrosis
- Pes anserine bursitis
- Patellofemoral overload
- Neck pain – This generally present with pain at the back of the neck, it can also refer pain to your shoulders. This is a result of poor biomechanics when swimming and/or in combination with weak neck muscles. There are numerous muscles required for neck extension and neck rotation, these are the structures that are overloaded due to lack of previous training and can cause a muscle tear or overload. Poor biomechanics can also over stress the ligaments and joints in the neck.
What can I do to avoid injury?
Optimising your swimming technique to avoid injury, implementing these tips can help you:
- Breath bilaterally: Try breathing every 3 strokes so you are breathing on alternating sides. This will ensure you are not overloading the muscles on one side of your neck more than the other.
- Maintain good form: This will allow you to avoid shoulder impingement issues, during front crawl ensure your chest is forward and your shoulders are retracted. Your hands should not come across your midline and should not be too wide. Your hand and arm should enter the water as an extension of your shoulder. As your hand enters the water it should be with a slightly flexed wrist and your third and fourth finger should break the water line first as opposed to your thumb, this will ensure a well aligned shoulder and avoid over internal rotation of your shoulder. Implement body rotation whilst swimming, so you should slightly rotate your body to your left as your left arm enters the water and vice versa.
- Kick using your legs: With a slight bend in your knees and pointed toes, kick using your legs by allowing the movement to originate from your hips.
To prevent injury there are some key exercises that our physiotherapists advocate, and they are:
- Resisted shoulder internal rotation
- Resisted shoulder external rotation
- Resisted shoulder extension with scapular retraction
One of our physiotherapists has put together a video of the exercises to ensure you get a clear understanding of how to execute them with correct form. CLICK HERE to see the exercises in action.
If you are a swimmer, that is a beginner, intermediate or even advanced level, and you want to avoid these conditions, or believe you may already be suffering with one, why not book a FREE 15-minute discovery visit? In this complimentary visit you will have a chance to speak to one of our experienced physiotherapists about your needs and/or condition and they will let you know if physio is right for you.
To book an appointment or a discovery visit, call us on: 0207 636 8845