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Common Swim Injuries and Staying Vigilant on Muscle Overuse this Summer: Q&A with Dr. David Gazzaniga

Common Swim Injuries and Staying Vigilant on Muscle Overuse this Summer: Q&A with Dr. David Gazzaniga

With summer well underway, one way to beat the heat and exercise is to swim. Swimming is a great sport for all ages. Whether it’s recreational swimming in your backyard or community pool, or more competitive team swimming, it’s important to be mindful of potential injuries and ways to strengthen your upper body. Dr. David Gazzaniga provided his expert feedback on common swimming injuries and how to strengthen your shoulders.

Q. What are common injuries swimmers may experience?

Dr. David Gazzaniga: Swimmer injuries center around their shoulder. Repetitive trauma from overusing a particular stroke creates an imbalance in your shoulder that can cause short- or longer-term damage.

Q: What are some ways swimmers can prevent injuries?

Dr. David Gazzaniga: Be mindful of how you position your shoulder. Ensure you’re working on the whole shoulder and maintain strength around the entire shoulder, don’t get stuck doing one motion over and over. Swimmers can decrease the amount of strain by using kick board or fins. Fins in particular do not require as much use in the shoulder and increases resistance in the legs and feet instead.

Overall, pay attention to how you work out. Varying the distance, stroke, and intensity of workout will help protect your shoulders. Swimmers should ensure they warm up properly on the days they swim. Incorporate rotator cuff exercises with bands, ensure shoulder blades are in a proper position, and maintain another exercise outside of swimming to ensure overall strength.

Q: For parents of younger children or adolescents getting into swimming, what are some precautions they should take to avoid injury?

Dr. David Gazzaniga: For the most part, young athletes are treated like adults and it’s not a great strategy. For younger athletes, any pain needs to be addressed early on to ensure it’s not a chronic or repetitive injury cause by overuse, which can take longer to resolve. As a parent, look for lingering pain that continues for periods of time. Any soreness should resolve within three days or so and if it’s not, it might be pain that needs to be treated. Generally, if pain exists longer than a week or two, you should seek the care of a physician to determine next steps.