Preventing Swimmer's Shoulder

Swimming is a wonderful activity. You have the opportunity to exercise your body, while also enjoying the naturally relaxing element that being in the water affords. After long periods in the water, mild shoulder discomfort is not uncommon due to repetitive shoulder movement while stroking. However, when this pain becomes more intense, debilitating or more consistent, it might be time to consider the idea of swimmer's shoulder.

Swimmer's Shoulder

Swimmer's shoulder, also known as shoulder impingement syndrome, is a condition that effects your musculoskeletal system, specifically the anterior lateral portion of your shoulder. This is the part of your shoulder that contains your tendons. Tendons are strong, cord-like collagen tissues that help your muscles function. Your tendons play a vital role in your shoulder's ability to move.

Onset of this condition generally begins with discomfort that may get worse over time. Additionally, your shoulder may also get weak. This weakness can lead to mobility issues. Normal movements like reaching behind your back or over your head can become painful and difficult to complete. Limited functionality has the potential to affect your life in a number of ways.


The most effective prevention tool is improving your stroke technique while swimming. When most people are diagnosed with this condition, their poor stroke technique is generally to blame, so begin there. Start by analyzing your body rotation. Ideally, you should have great symmetrical body rotation while swimming. This means that your arms and your lower body are always perfectly aligned in a straight line.

This will prevent your arms from swinging wildly, which often results in swimmer's shoulder. It's also important for you to understand how to place your hands in the water. When performing a stroke, never put your thumb in the water first. This stroke pattern leads to excessive rotation, causing overuse. You should be putting your hands in palm-side down.


Treatment for swimmer's shoulder generally involves a multifaceted approach. However, the two largest components generally include medications and physical therapy. Depending on the level of your discomfort, you may be provided with an oral anti-inflammatory medication to help relieve some of your discomfort. In terms of physical therapy, you will be prescribed a series of exercises to complete. These exercises work by strengthening and stretching your shoulder area, in an effort to repair the damage.

Your health should be your first concern. If you believe you are suffering from this condition, make certain you are reaching out to a medical provider or sports physical therapist to ensure you get the diagnosis and treatment you need.