What Is Swimmer’s Shoulder?

swimmer shoulder impingement

Swimming shoulder is another term for shoulder impingement. The condition has earned its name because swimmers very commonly irritate their shoulders when swimming because of the constant rotation of the joint. If you’re an avid swimmer, chances are you have had or will have shoulder impingement. You may also experience this shoulder pain if you simply like to swim often in the summer season. Here’s what the athlete and the amateur should know about swimmer’s shoulder.

By simply swimming freestyle, you’ll rotate your shoulder thousands of times in just an hour. This repetitive motion will tire out the rotator cuff muscles and improper positioning will cause the muscles and other tissues in the area to rub against each other. The inflammation and irritation that follows can start to cause pain if you continue to swim. Unfortunately, your shoulder will continue to feel this way unless you properly reduce inflammation, as well as stretch and retrain your rotator cuff muscles.
If your feeling pain in your shoulder while swimming it’s best to see a shoulder expert, such as Dr. Leon E. Popovitz, as early as possible to keep the condition from worsening. Don’t continue to swim, as you’ll need to rest the shoulder to reduce inflammation. After this, you can start a physical therapy program, which is often the only treatment necessary to recover from shoulder impingement.
A physical therapist can manual massage and stretch the otherwise hard to reach rotator cuff muscles. This will release tension to prevent further irritation. After you’ve healed enough, your physical therapist will provide you with custom exercises that target the rotator cuff muscles. Strengthening these muscles helps support your shoulder joint during activity, making it more resistant to future injury.
In addition, your shoulder orthopedist and physical therapist can help you recondition the shoulder to ensure that it will not become a weak spot in the future. Athletes often benefit from sports rehabilitation, which can help you continue to swim while rehabilitating as well as incorporate techniques to take pressure off of your shoulder joint.
Dr. Leon Popovitz and Dr. Michael Mizhiritsky, along with their team of best-in-class orthopedic physicians, are known for their exemplary orthopedic surgical skill and best-rated physical medicine and rehabilitation program. This, along with their top in-office physical therapy and long-term sports rehabilitation processes, leads to athletes of all levels returning to their top physical potential. Contact us today to schedule a consult!
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