Swimming is great exercise — it activates many different muscles and parts of your body, giving you a full-body workout. While it does have a number of benefits for your body, some frequent or competitive swimmers suffer from Swimmer’s Shoulder.

What is “Swimmer’s Shoulder”?

In swimming, you consistently make repetitive strokes, sometimes hundreds of times in a row. This repetitive motion causes a lot of wear and tear on your shoulders and can cause the muscles and tendons to tense up or wear down over time.

Swimmer’s Shoulder is the most common injury swimmers experience, and it isn’t fun to deal with. Consistent practice and swim meets require you to use your arms to pull and push you forward in the water — and your shoulders do much of the work, taking the brunt of your muscle movement.

Swimmer’s Shoulder is the term to describe the pain that swimmers experience in the anterior — or front — part of their shoulder during and after workouts. Swimmer’s Shoulder can cause a significant amount of pain, especially when you’re out of the water and post-workout. Like most sports-related injuries, surgery is available to address this issue; however, before your pain escalates to a level that requires a medical procedure, a physical therapist or chiropractor can provide drug-free relief.

4 PT-Approved Tips to Alleviate Swimmer’s Shoulder Pain

1. Alleviate Swelling With Ice

One of the best ways to treat and prevent pain is to alleviate any swelling with ice packs. Apply ice for 20 minutes, then remove it for 20 minutes, and repeat until your shoulder feels better.

2. Give your body proper rest

We know the pool is a great way to exercise and if you’re swimming competitively, that training is the key to improvement; however, you have to give your body proper rest. When your body is resting, it is recovering, and you can’t improve your skill if your body doesn’t ever recover — even if it means resting for just a day or two.

3. Stretch every day

Stretching is one of the best things you can do to keep your muscles loose and healthy. Find a stretch routine that works for you — perhaps take some inspiration from PTA Conor’s video linked here — and provides you with pain relief while helping to prevent your pain from getting any worse.

4. See a physical therapist

One of the best things you can do for your body, no matter what kind of athlete you are or exercise you do, is seeing a physical therapist or chiropractor regularly! They will teach you simple movements and treat your body pain to ensure your body is in working order.

Swimmer’s Shoulder Treatment at ACPT

Whether you are a new swimmer looking to prevent injury or you’ve been swimming your entire life and your shoulders lock up on you, we have a treatment plan for you! Here at Albany Chiropractic & Physical Therapy, we create customized treatments for our patients so we can get them back to doing the things they love.

To schedule an appointment with us, give us a call at (518) 869-3884.


This article was written with information from Coastal Orthopedics and Foothills Sports Medicine.