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Shoulder pain is common amongst competitive swimmers due to the highly repetitive nature of the sport.


Most shoulder pain will occur for two reasons:

  1. Muscle fatigue – most stability in the shoulder comes from the muscles surrounding the joint contracting to support the joint through its range of motion. Some muscles in the shoulder are more prone to fatigue than others, creating muscular imbalance and adaptation occurring throughout the shoulder girdle and thoracic/cervical spine. This reduces the stability of the shoulder, leaving it more vulnerable to injury.
  2. Biomechanical faults – stroke faults can lead to increased strain being placed on different structures in the shoulder girdle, thorax and neck leading to pain and injury. Common biomechanical faults leading to injury include: one-sided breathing; arm crossing the midline in freestyle; and inadequate body roll.

Your Osteopath can help to identify muscle weakness and biomechanical faults in your swimming stroke, and provide exercises and advice to correct these.

Common swimming injuries that we see and treat at City Osteopathy include suprasprinatus tendinopathy, subacromial impingement and cervical spine/upper back strains/pain.

Article written by Dr Clair HurstMelbourne osteopath and pilates instructor.