Common Swimming Injuries Prevention & Treatment

Summer is the best time to hit the water whether you're a competitive athlete, a lap swimmer, or someone who just likes to hang out in the pool or the waves. Unfortunately, if you're a serious swimmer, you also know that swimming comes with its share of injuries. The good news is that many of these injuries are preventable with the right precautions.

At OAA Orthopaedic Specialists, we're passionate about educating athletes of all levels about how to prevent injuries and helping them recover quickly if they do occur. Here are four of the most common swimming injuries we see at OAA, along with some tips on how to prevent them.

If you do suffer an injury, OAA Orthopaedic Specialists has you covered with comprehensive care and treatment options. Ready to find relief? Schedule your first appointment with our team of board-certified orthopedists today.

  1. 1 - Rotator Cuff Tears

    The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles and tendons that attach the shoulder blade to the upper arm. These muscles and tendons help lift the arm and stabilize the shoulder joint. Rotator cuff tears are a common injury among competitive swimmers, especially those who swim with improper technique. The repetitive overhead motions of swimming can put a lot of stress on the rotator cuff, causing the tendons to become irritated and inflamed. This can eventually lead to a tear.

    To prevent a rotator cuff injury, make sure you're using proper swimming technique. Keep your elbow at a 90-degree angle when you're drawing your arm through the water and avoid excessive internal rotation of the shoulder. You should also focus on strengthening the muscles around the rotator cuff with exercises like shoulder presses and lateral raises.

    If you do suffer a rotator cuff tear, OAA Orthopaedic Specialists can help. Our shoulder specialists near you offer comprehensive swimmer’s shoulder treatment for all types of rotator cuff injuries, from conservative treatment options to minimally invasive surgery.

  2. 2 - Shoulder Impingement

    Shoulder impingement is another one of the most common swimming shoulder injuries. It occurs when the rotator cuff muscles and tendons become trapped or pinched inside the shoulder joint. This can happen when the swimmer's arm is overhead for long periods of time, as is often the case in swimming. Shoulder impingement can also be caused by repetitive motions or incorrect swimming techniques.

    To prevent shoulder pain, focus on maintaining good shoulder range of motion. Do some light stretching and warm-up exercises before you swim, and avoid overhead motions that put too much stress on the shoulder joint. You should also focus on using the proper swimming technique required for whichever stroke you're performing: freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, or butterfly.

    If you do develop shoulder impingement, OAA can provide the treatment you need. We offer a variety of conservative and surgical treatment options depending on the severity of your condition, including sports-specific medical care.

  3. 3 - Knee Injuries

    While shoulder injuries are more common in swimmers, it may surprise you to learn that swimmers can be susceptible to knee injuries as well. Swimming is a low-impact sport, which means it's easy on the joints. However, that doesn't mean knee injuries can't occur. Knee injuries are often caused by overuse, improper swimming techniques, or weak muscles around the joint. Kicking is an essential part of most swimming strokes, so it's important to focus on using the proper technique to avoid putting too much stress on those joints.

    There are several things you can do to prevent knee injuries as a swimmer. First, make sure you're using proper technique, not just with your arms, but with your legs. That means keeping your knees straight when you kick and avoiding excessive flexion at the hip. Second, focus on strengthening the muscles around your knees with exercises like lunges and squats. Third, pay attention to any pain or discomfort you're feeling in your joints and take a break if you need to.

    If you do suffer a knee injury, OAA Orthopaedic Specialists is here to help you recover. Our team of specialists offers comprehensive care for all types of knee injuries, from simple strains to complex ligament tears.

  4. 4 - Lower Back Pain

    Lower back pain is a common issue for swimmers of all levels, from beginners to professional athletes. There are a few different reasons why this might be the case. First, swimming is often done in a hunched-over position, which can put strain on the lower back. Second, the repetitive motions of swimming can lead to muscle imbalances and tightness in the lower back. Finally, the core muscles that support the lower back can become weak from lack of use.

    To avoid lower back pain, focus on maintaining good posture and alignment when you're swimming. Remember to keep your chin up and your back straight, and focus on using your core muscles to stabilize your spine. You should also pay attention to any muscle imbalances and make sure you're stretching and strengthening all the muscles in your back, not just the ones that are tight or weak.

    If you do suffer from lower back pain, OAA Orthopaedic Specialists can help. Our Spine Center of Excellence is dedicated to diagnosing and treating all types of spine conditions, and we offer a variety of conservative and surgical treatment options, depending on your individual needs.

Don't Let Swimming Injuries Hold You Back

Swimming is a great way to stay fit and healthy, but like any sport, it comes with its own risks. Injuries can happen to even the most experienced athletes. The good news is that there are things you can do to prevent them, and OAA is here to help if you do get hurt.

OAA Orthopaedic Specialists staffs a team of the best board-certified orthopedic doctors Allentown, PA has to offer. We specialize in getting all types of athletes back in the game, and we focus on minimally-invasive procedures to minimize pain, cost, and recovery time. Our team will work with you one-on-one to develop a treatment plan that will return you to full function and get you back in the pool as quickly as possible.

To learn more about our services and get started on your road to recovery, schedule your consultation with OAA today!

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there any specific exercises I can do to prevent shoulder impingement?

Yes, focusing on maintaining good shoulder range of motion and using proper swimming techniques can help prevent shoulder impingement. Strengthening the muscles around the shoulder joint can also help reduce the risk of injury. It's important to consult with a medical professional or physical therapist for personalized exercises and recommendations.

How can I tell if I have a knee injury from swimming?

Signs of a knee injury from swimming may include pain, swelling, stiffness, or difficulty bearing weight on the affected knee. If you experience any of these symptoms, it's important to seek medical attention for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Can lower back pain from swimming be prevented?

Yes, maintaining good posture and using proper technique while swimming can help prevent lower back pain. Regularly stretching and strengthening the muscles in your back can also help prevent imbalances and weakness that may contribute to lower back pain. Consult with a medical professional or physical therapist for personalized recommendations. 

How can OAA Orthopaedic Specialists help with swimming injuries

OAA offers a variety of conservative and surgical treatment options for all types of swimming injuries. Our team of specialists will work with you to develop a personalized treatment plan that focuses on getting you back in the pool as quickly and safely as possible. We also specialize in minimally-invasive procedures to minimize pain, cost, and recovery time.  Contact us today to schedule a consultation with our experts.  Always remember to consult with a medical professional for personalized advice and recommendations for your specific condition.