Swimming is a wonderful, healthy activity that comes along with far fewer injuries than say…running!
The pavement pounding is not a factor as the water is a supportive environment.
But the one common swimming injury, shoulders, tends to be really annoying!
Quick personal story. I grew up swimming in an era where “More is better” was the motto among my coaches. “Hell week” consisted of 20,000 yard days. One week I remember our team eclipsed 100,000 yards. I was so proud at the time to say I did that!
But that kind of distance can come at a price.
By the time I was 19, I was getting tendonitis in my left shoulder.
Not using a pull buoy or paddles for a while helped me heal. But the next year, the same shoulder issue came back. Lots of physical therapy, icing, and ibuprofen carried me through that year. Yes, it was the 90s, we weren’t enlightened on the dangers of ibuprofen yet. 🙂
This shoulder issue became ongoing. I was able stave it off for the most part in my competitive years, but it has come up occasionally as an adult.
And then, 2 years ago, it became kind of a permanent thing. Pain in both shoulders. It went from having to cut down on my swim workouts, to avoiding swimming completely, due to pain and lack of range of motion in my shoulder.
“Frozen shoulder” is what I heard it might be.
I proceeded to see physical therapists, chiropractors, deep tissue massage therapists, acupuncturists, and various other alternative therapists. 2 years went by and I had no relief other than a few temporary spans of less pain.
And then, 2 weeks ago. A friend told me to listen to this Joe Rogan podcast episode where the guest discusses how he fixed his shoulder issues by…hanging from a bar!
He recommended a book that I immediately bought. It’s called “Shoulder Pain? The Solution And Prevention.
The basic idea is, we are meant to have our hands above our heads on a regular basis. As kids, we play on monkey bars and climb on things on the time. Then we become adults and we sit at computers all day, and move around about 99% of the time with our arms down.
If there are any rotator cuff or other shoulder issues, they can get compounded by this.
The cure is to hang daily. At first, this is very hard. And, if you have shoulder injuries, it can feel like you are making them worse!
But I’m happy to say. I’m on week 2 now and I’m already experiencing 50% less pain than before, and an increase in mobility that is shocking! I even swam a few laps the other day with minimal pain.
How does it work? The book I mentioned explains it in detail, if you’re interested in the biology behind this.
As far as protocol goes, the idea is to start small. If you currently are unable to hang with your body off the ground, start with your toes touching the ground. Start with 5-10 seconds at a time, and build from there. I’m currently doing about 5-6 sets of 45 seconds a day, but when I started, I could only do 15 seconds at a time.
Bottom line. If you’re doing any swimming, and you have even the slightest bit of shoulder pain, start doing some hanging from a bar. This can not only cure your pain, but also prevent bigger issues that may sideline you.