New research has revealed that over 75% of swimmers suffer from swimmers’ shoulder. It is believed that heavy training is the leading cause of injury, followed closely by a ‘no pain no gain’ philosophy.
Here, we’ll look at the most recent research and its findings, alongside what swimmers’ shoulder is and how it can be prevented.
What is swimmers shoulder?
Swimmers shoulder is a term given to numerous shoulder injuries sustained during swimming. They are typically experienced due to overuse of the joint and cause varying level of pain.
When you swim, the shoulder joint is placed under a lot of strain. It is put through a lot of different motions, each of which can cause a different type of overuse injury. While the shoulder is one of the most mobile joints in the body, it isn’t the most stable. This means injuries due to overuse are common.
What did the research reveal?
The recent research into swimmers’ shoulder published within the American Academy of Paediatrics, revealed that the distance swam by competitive swimmers played a key role in shoulder injury.
The team assessed youth club and high school swimmers at a competitive level. They discovered many of the children were suffering with shoulder pain, linked to how far they swam each day. They also discovered that the children believed pain was a natural part of swimming competitively.
It was also revealed that swimmers’ clubs had more children who suffered from shoulder pain compared to high school teams. This seems to link to the fact that swimming clubs cover more distance and more frequent training sessions.
A total of 150 children were assessed in the study. It discovered that 76.7% had experienced shoulder pain over the past year. A staggering 66% of them also revealed that they felt they should tolerate milder shoulder pain if they want to succeed. Half of those questioned also said they knew a competitor who relied upon pain medication.
Those who reported pain tended to swim 2,001 to 6,322 yards per training session. Those who experienced no pain swam a total of 1,568 to 3,513 yards per session.
Is swimmers shoulder preventable?
The research shows two things that could help prevent swimmers’ shoulder. The first is the attitude towards shoulder pain. Young athletes need to understand the seriousness of shoulder pain and the conditions it can link to. Once pain is experienced, adequate rest of the shoulder should be provided.
Another way that swimmers can reduce their risk is to avoid overtraining. Carrying out strengthening exercises will ensure the muscles of the shoulder are better equipped to handle the strain they are placed under. Keeping an eye on the distance they cover in each session will also help.
However, it isn’t always possible to prevent swimmers’ shoulder. If an injury does occur, it is important to seek treatment as soon as possible. This will prevent extensive time away from the pool and also stop the injury from worsening.