Swimming is a fantastic low-impact fitness exercise that is popular with over a million competitive and recreational swimmers in the US. Fitness experts recommended swimming for its gentle low-stress impact on the body as the buoyancy assists the body weight while providing a complete workout by exercising most of the major muscles. Professional swimmers may train by swimming almost 5 miles a day. However, along with extreme exertion and repetitive motion comes wear and tear, in this case of the joints, shoulders, knees, hips, and back, depending on the stroke. Here are some common injuries caused due to swimming.
1. Swimmer’s Shoulder
Irrespective of the type of stroke, the shoulder is in constant action because of the continuous hand movement involved in swimming. Front crawl and backstroke are the main causes of swimmer’s shoulder. The shoulder joint is one of the most commonly affected parts of the body owing to swimming injuries or overuse. Shoulder injuries may include rotator cuff impingement occurring due to the pressure on the rotator cuff from the shoulder blade or scapula. A painful inflammation of the bicep tendon called biceps tendinitis and shoulder instability can result from fatigue and weakness of the rotator cuff and muscles surrounding the shoulder blade.
2. Neck Injuries
Breath control is an important part of swimming as you must know how to hold your breath while underwater. Breathing technique is crucial for optimal swimming performance. Most swimmers tend to focus mainly on their timing and neglect the way in which the head is raised up for air. The improper technique of craning the head for a gulp of air in repetitive motions can gradually lead to a pain in the neck. The most common cause of neck pain in swimming is extending the neck too far when surfacing for air. Hence, learning the correct method to come up just far enough for air is crucial to prevent neck injuries. Before plunging into the pool, it is a good idea to perform neck rolls and stretches.
3. Lower Back Pain
Lower back injuries typically occur as a result of over-doing the butterfly stroke. The butterfly stroke is a physically exerting stroke in swimming and is mostly performed by competitive swimmers. Since it is chiefly practiced by people who swim frequently, it leads to pain over time. The swimmers doing this stroke don’t turn to their side when they surface for air. Instead, they position their torsos parallel to the bottom of the pool and lift their heads directly up. This motion causes stress on the lower back when performed constantly and gradually leads to pain. Lower back disk problems or even spondylolysis may occur because of the dolphin kick, which is often used in competitive swimming. Again, stretching and warming up the back muscles before getting into the pool is the best way to prevent this from occurring.
4. Swimmer’s Knee
Swimmer’s knee, a kind of knee pain that is commonly associated to the breaststroke, is also known as breaststroke knee. Breaststroke is often considered a relatively easy stroke and many swimmers follow an improper technique, which is the main reason behind the swimmer’s knee condition. Kicking our legs to propel forward while they are positioned at a 90-degree angle places a lot of stress on the knee. This causes cumulative damage if the breaststroke is done improperly over a prolonged duration. The condition results in weak knees, dull pain, sudden and sharp pain, and inflammation of the knee.
5. Muscle Cramp
Leg and arm cramps when swimming are common and occur when a muscle is involuntarily contracted and does not relax. When a muscle contracts into a forceful and sustained spasm, it becomes cramped. The cramp causes a visible hardening of the muscle accompanied by severe pain and feels tender to the touch. Some common symptoms of muscle cramp are sudden stiff and tight muscles, pain in the affected muscular region, and restricted or difficult movement in affected area.