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Avoid Injury Through Proper Swimming Techniques

As the weather warms up, many people like to include swimming in their fitness program. An excellent physical workout, swimming can burn up to 720 calories in an hour. Exercising in the water also eliminates the pounding and jarring effects aerobics, running and other exercises have on your joints. But as with any other exercise, there are risks for injury.

A major complaint from swimmers is shoulder pain. The pain is described as a "catching" sensation in the shoulders during swimming and a throbbing pain after swimming. This condition is known as swimmer's shoulder and is caused by the stress applied to the shoulders when the arm enters the water, especially during butterfly or freestyle swimming.

An excess of internal rotation during each stroke continuously adds to stress on the shoulder. For example, the average male freestyle swimmer takes about 15 strokes per 25 yards, and the average female takes about 25 strokes in the same distance. So, in a single 2,500-yard freestyle workout, the shoulder muscles are rotated and contracted on each stroke for a total of 1,500 times for men and 3,000 times for women freestylers. From these stroke counts, it is not surprising that 60 percent of all swimmers suffer from this chronic irritation of the shoulder and rotator cuff with women having a higher incidence of the condition due to their higher stroke count.

Swimmer's shoulder can be treated with simple exercises and special care. When you first notice symptoms of swimmer's shoulder, you should apply ice to the affected area. For more serious conditions, physical therapy treatment may be required, including ultrasound, stretching and strengthening exercises and ice massages.

If you are thinking of adding swimming to your fitness program, take special precautions to avoid developing swimmer's shoulder. As with all physical activities, a good stretching routine should come before and after you exercise. Giving all of your muscles a nice stretch especially the shoulders and warming them up before jumping into the water is an important step in reducing your risk for injury.

Pay close attention to your stroke technique, noting which of your fingers enters the water first. Ideally, your third or fourth finger should be first to enter the water. Your thumb entering first signifies that your arm is rotating internally to an excessive degree, applying additional stress to the shoulder and increasing your probability of developing a swimmer's shoulder. Having correct swimming style will not only help you avoid injury, but will improve your speed and help you feel better after swimming.

Another tip to avoid injury involves the flip-turn. When swimming lengths in a pool, use the flip-turn in the water instead of grabbing the wall when you reach the end of a lap. The flip-turn allows for a stress-free turnaround in the water, whereas the wall-grabbing position places your shoulder in an awkward position, making you vulnerable to injury.

Swimming is one of the safest exercises for everyone of any age and physical condition. Due to the buoyancy the water provides, swimming causes the fewest difficulties and injuries than any other sport and , in fact, actually helps looses stiff or arthritic joints. Swimming also strengthens your back and energizes your heart and lungs, while helping you get in shape and burn off excess fat. So, when you jump into the water this summer to cool off from the sultry air, swim a few laps and work your body into shape, too!

Therapy Services Associates
Hours: Monday - Friday :: 8am - 5pm
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Two Offices
Google+ Link Hobbs
2700 N Grimes
Hobbs, NM 88240
(575) 392-4129
FAX (575) 392-3835

Google+ Link Lovington
Located inside Nor Lea Hospital
1600 N Main
Lovington, NM 88260
(575) 396-5227
FAX (575) 396-7193

We serve Lea and Eddy Counties in New Mexico, as well as Yoakum and Gaines Counties in West Texas.