Shoulder pain attributed to swimming is very common and there are many different causes. Listing all of these causes and conditions is beyond the scope of any blog as it is a very complex topic. Nevertheless, this article will address one of the more common scenario’s; impingement of the shoulder.
Although there are different types of impingement and many different shoulder abnormalities that are related to the condition, we often see a “functional” impingement in our practise. In this condition, various soft tissue structures are compressed during shoulder movement. The repetitive overhead nature of swimming is notoriously linked to impingement of the shoulder. When impingement is present in a swimmers shoulder, it is definitely a situation where a relatively small problem can turn into a large one if not managed properly.
Since degeneration of the rotator cuff tendons is now considered a relatively normal process of aging, it is safe to assume that many of you who are reading this will already have some changes in these tendons. Subjecting these degenerating tendons to repeated compression (as with impingement and swimming) has been found in the literature to accelerate the degenerative process. Advanced tendon degeneration has also been linked to rotator cuff tearing and untreated rotator cuff tears have the potential to accelerate the progression of arthritis in the shoulder. Given this vicious snowballing effect of shoulder injury, preventative exercises are obviously a great idea!
Exercises for Shoulder Pain
The following exercises can help to prevent or reduce impingement for some individuals as they target some of the common weaknesses that are linked to this condition. As we always recommend, your best course of action (whether you’re in pain or not) is to have your shoulder examined by a suitable healthcare practitioner (like a chiropractor) who can identify any weaknesses or factors that may predispose you to impingement and who can tailor a strengthening program specific to your needs. Call our clinic today! 905.220.7858 firstname.lastname@example.org
Retraction – Pinch your shoulder blades together. Hold for 10 seconds and relax.
Depression and Retraction – Combine the motion above (pinching your shoulder blades together) while pulling them downward. Hold for 10 seconds and relax.
Low Row – The low row is performed by pulling backward at the shoulder while pinching your shoulder blades back and down.
Cools, AM., Cambier D. Witvrouw E. Screening the athlete’s shoulder for impingement symptoms: a clinical reasoning algorithm for early detection of shoulder pathology. British Journal of Sports Medicine 2008; 42: 628-635.
Kannus P., Jozsa L. Histopathological changes preceding spontaneous rupture of a tendon. A controlled study of 891 patients. Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery (American) 1991: 73(10): 1507-1525.
Kibler WB, Sciascia AD, Uhl TL, Tambay N, Cunningham T. Electromyographic analysis of specific exercises for scapular control in early phases of shoulder rehabilitation. American Journal of Sports Medicine 2008; 36(9): 1789-1798.
Nho, S., Yadav H., Shindle M., MacGillivray J. Rotator cuff degeneration. American Journal of Sports Medicine. 2008; 36: 987-993.