Injury Prevention for Swimmers

Okay folks, here’s a quick one today about injury prevention for swimmers. It gets a little technical, but you’ll figure it out.

It’s no secret we have a lot of swimmers that come through Combine. Recently I was working with 2 younger swimmers who were struggling to get overhead and compensating with their lower back.

Swimmers perform roughly 15 strokes per 25 yd lap while swimming. That’s 240 strokes in a 400 yd race, and 300 strokes in a 500(AKA a metric $h!t ton of shoulder rotations!) Muscles on top of the shoulder produce tension to raise the arm overhead. Muscles on the anterior side of the body (mostly chest), bring the arm down and propel the swimmer forward.

Over time and after hundreds of repetitions, the shoulder migrates toward one side of its socket. This produces rubbing, scraping, tugging and pulling on the tendons inside the joint resulting in pain, reduced range of motion, and eventually injury.

To center the humerus inside the cuff, it’s necessary to strengthen the muscles on the posterior side of the shoulder and scapula stabilizers. In the video below you can see our swimmer first retracting her shoulder blade, followed by concentric shoulder extension, then eccentric shoulder extension, and finally relaxing of the shoulder blade. Sometimes I will increase the resistance, bring her shoulder down to extension and have her work just on the eccentric motion, making sure we don’t see any anterior humeral glide which is a sign of the pec major taking over.

Also check out this band routine below for waking up dusty muscles opposite the ones normally used during swimming. The goal here is to counter the swimming motion, bring the humeral head back to the center of its socket, and keep swimmers in the water.

My production assistant hasn’t quite finished film school yet, or high school for that matter so the audio may not be CD quality. Also my anchor arm should be a little more still than it currently is.

Ok so in my first movement I’m anchoring one hand down near my pocket while my other hand flexes in a diagonal pattern relative to my torso. In the second movement I’m simply anchoring above my head now (more difficult). The last movement is scapula retraction (pinching shoulder blades together).

Go swim and don’t pee in the pool 😉


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