Swimming Injuries - How Physiotherapy Can Help

The Olympics are on!  Watching olympic athletes often inspires our clients to try new sports, such as swimming.  Swimming is an excellent form of relaxation, and people of all age groups and physical abilities can enjoy it.  In fact, our physiotherapists frequently recommend swimming as an exercise that has low impact on joints.

Despite the low-impact nature of swimming, however, injuries can still occur.  Swimming requires adequate flexibility, strength and cardiovascular fitness.  Strong swimmers need strong arms, legs, and a strong core - for propelling the body forward in the water and staying afloat.  In order to do certain swimming moves, swimmers need enough mobility in their shoulders, hips, neck and back.

When we see swimming injuries, these are usually 'overuse' injuries.  This means the swimmer introduced new movements too quickly, without giving the body enough time to adapt.  Injuries can also be triggered by pre-existing conditions.  For example, an old shoulder injury may be aggravated by adding the shoulder movements required for front crawl.  

What Are The Most Common Swimming Injuries?

Common swimming injuries include:

  1. Shoulder pain - This is usually when muscles of the "rotator cuff" in the shoulder become aggravated and painful.  
  2. Neck pain - Swimming requires repetitive rotation of the neck, to help breathe.  If done improperly, sometimes this movement can aggravate the neck.  
  3. Back pain - Especially if the swimmer has inadequate core control and core strength for the swimming movements they need to do.
  4. Knee pain - Including pain in the ligaments on the inside of the knee, or pain under the knee cap.
  5. Thoracic outlet syndrome - Where nerves or vessels around the neck and upper chest are compressed and aggravated.
  6. Muscle cramps - these can occur in any part of the body, resulting in stiff muscles, restricted movement, and pain during and after swimming lessons.

How Does Physiotherapy Speed Recovery?

Our physiotherapists can help clients prevent swimming injuries, and speed recovery from existing injuries.  A physiotherapist can assess how you are currently moving, and help spot any movement issues that could put you at risk for future swimming injuries.  They can also assess your existing swimming injuries, and develop a custom treatment plan to speed your recovery and prevent any further injury.  Every swimming has their own 'journey' to recovery, and our physiotherapists will be there to help at every stage, until the swimmer has achieved their goal.

Physiotherapy Treatment For Swimming Injuries

All our treatment techniques are drug-free approaches to help our patients achieve their goals.  These include: 

  • Education - including guidance on what to do and what not to do when recovering, and an explanation on why an injury has happened and how to prevent it from happening again.
  • Massage therapy - Our Registered Massage Therapists provide soft tissue, deep tissue, relaxation, lymphatic, and regional therapeutic massage.  Our physiotherapists can also provide regional massage i.e. massage to one region of the body.
  • Joint mobilization - hands-on techniques to loosen stiff joints.
  • Dry needling - to release tight muscles and fascia.
  • Acupuncture - to treat pain, induce relaxation, and reduce inflammation. 
  • Taping - to reduce pain with movement, and help change movement patterns.
  • Postural advice - to reduce pain and improve performance.

At River East Physiotherapy, our physiotherapists can work with you to develop a custom treatment plan for your healing. Not sure if we can help you and your unique condition?  Call us to arrange a free, 15-minute phone consultation with a physiotherapist.