Technique is essential in swimming when we are dealing with such repetitive motion, specifically in the shoulders. Improper technique is a leading cause of injury. Take the time to learn the correct technique, and focus on maintaining it while swimming. A couple examples of poor technique causing injury are:
- Crossing over midline in freestyle, when pulling in the shoulders.
- Over rotating the shoulders from reaching beyond normal range.
USA Swimming has some great resources on technique that may be of benefit to you: http://www.usaswimming.org/
Eventually you’ll have to be a fish out of water
Swimming may be your preferred mode of exercise, but it’s important that you mix in dry-land, weight-bearing exercise as well. For long-term bone health, weight-bearing exercise is essential, which unfortunately, you can’t get in the pool. If you can, choose something that does not put heavy strain on the shoulders, to give those muscles a chance to rest and rebuild.
Protect those shoulders
When weight training, choose strengthening exercises for the rotator cuff, shoulder blade muscles and the deltoids on top of the shoulders. Building strength in these areas will help protect the other structures in the shoulder from strain and overuse. Examples include sitting press ups, prone horizontal abduction, scaption, side lying external rotation, and internal rotation. You can Google any of these to see pictures of how to perform them.
Mix up the strokes
You don’t want to be doing the same stroke workout after workout. This can increase your chances of overuse injury. Integrating several different strokes into your swimming will create better muscle balance.
These arthritis-safe exercise guidelines will help you confidently maintain an exercise program that won’t cause further damage to your joints.
Athletic trainer Sara Rock frequently sees overuse injuries among her student athletes. She explains the manual therapies she uses, and describes how they contribute to better outcomes for the athletes she treats.
When your joints feel painful, it can be challenging to stick with your exercise program. Understanding the objectives behind your routine might be just the motivation you need.