Wellness Wednesday: Shoulder Overuse Injuries


Loudoun County, Va. — The shoulder is a very mobile joint due to its ball and socket design which gives it a large range of movement, so it needs to be stabilized by all the muscles and ligaments that surround the joint. Many factors can result in these muscles and ligaments being over worked including:

  • Weakness
  • Fatigue or muscle endurance limitations
  • Over training
  • Poor technique with stroke (especially freestyle)
  • Tightness

Over time injuries such as swimmer’s shoulder, rotator cuff impingement, and tendinitis occur. If not addressed it may lead to a more serious problem.

Swimmer’s Shoulder

Swimmer’s shoulder is a very broad term that is used to cover a range of painful shoulder overuse injuries that occur in swimmers. There are various parts of your shoulder that can be injured from your swimming stroke so pain symptoms can be anything from a local pain near the shoulder joint, to a spreading pain that travels up your shoulder and neck or down into your arm. Swimmer’s shoulder is one of the most common injuries that affects swimmers of all ages and levels of competition.

Rotator Cuff Impingement and Tendinitis

Impingement generally refers to the pinching of the rotator cuff against bone every time you lift your arms overhead. Over time the tendon becomes inflamed and results in constant pain symptoms which is known as tendinitis. Shoulder impingement and tendinitis are the result of overuse not a traumatic event and can generally be resolved with rest, strengthening and proper stroke technique.

  • 90% of the propulsive forces comes from the upper extremities
  • Competitive swimmers can swim 6-8 miles in a day (6-7 days a week)
  • Swimming strokes are done in sequence giving little time for muscles to rest
  • 66% of swimmers report a shoulder injury

Due to the repetitive nature and the instability of the joint structure it is easy to see why too many suffer from overuse injuries!

Note from our sponsor: At LSTC, our clinicians are experienced in treating these types of injuries. Your therapist will run through some common tests assessing the supportive structures of your shoulder to determine the problem. Using what they know about the cause and areas of weakness a program will be specially designed for you. Don’t let shoulder pain keep you out of the water or from doing other things you love!


About Author

Loudoun Sports Therapy Center is a premier physical therapy clinic. We offer outpatient orthopedic and sports physical therapy as well as specialty programs.

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