Getting Started with a Healthy Shoulder

by Jim Miller, M.D.

This fall, most swimmers will be coming off a break following the long-course swimming season. Coaches will be going to their annual national and state meetings, where they learn new training techniques and share some of their own experiences of the past year. The time is now to prevent injuries.

Assuming you can put the topic of high tech suits aside for a moment, the recent World Championship in Rome was inspiring with new, more efficient swimming on display. As an athlete, this is the time to improve stroke technique and work on those aspects of your training that are the weakest. If this time of swimming renewal is taken seriously, the year will be exciting with achieved goals and a decrease in injuries and soreness.

Swimming injuries are almost always related to stroke technique flaws. Overuse injuries in swimmers may involve the neck, lower back, elbow, or knee, but by far, the most common injuries involve the shoulder. Medical research reveals that between 60 and 80 percent of all swimmers will have a shoulder related injury, requiring them to take a break from training for one week or longer, at some point during their swimming careers.

So what can we do about it? Here are several tips to consider. They have been designed to help decrease this number and keep you in the water. After all, who wants to be part of that statistic?
The best treatment is prevention, so be conscious of your body. Listen to it and allow it to tell you how to proceed during your fall training.

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