Shoulder injuries in swimmers are like Starbucks. They’re everywhere you turn. I can’t even start to count the times I had to sit out of practice because of my shoulder issues.
Back when I was competing, I thought shoulder injuries were just par for the course for swimmers. Everyone I knew seemed to have some sort of trouble. And none of my coaches really gave it a second thought since they occurred so frequently.
But as I got older and started to learn more about how our bodies are supposed to move, and my husband and I started SwimBox, I realized all of the shoulder injuries I was surrounded by growing up could have been avoided with proper technique.
If you didn’t grow up a swimmer you might not know this, but most coaches you have have zero qualifications. Well, other than the fact that they used to – or maybe still do – swim themselves.
Summer league teams you join when you’re a kid, middle school and high school teams, and even competitive club teams, mostly hire from within. And by within I mean they take people who grew up swimming for them and turn them into their coaching staff, based off of the simple fact that “they can swim.”
Because of this the majority of kids learning to swim from these teams are never taught correct movements and grow up swimming their strokes just pretty much okay.
What does pretty much okay translate to? Incorrect, inefficient, and injury prone swimming.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to bad-mouth any swim coaches out there. Just trying to give some background for the people who didn’t grow up in the sport. It’s just how it goes.
Let’s get to the meat of the issue. How to prevent your shoulder injuries.
Simply put? Use the proper muscles to power the recovery, catch, and pull of your freestyle.
And in order to do so all you have to remember is that you need your shoulder blade to glide upwards during your recovery, and glide downwards – towards your back pocket – during your catch and pull.
That’s it. Just that one simple piece of knowledge will help you take the strain off of your shoulder joints and put the power into the correct place.
Seems simple, but most people can’t actually feel their shoulder blades move. So make sure to really focus on this movement the next time you hop in the pool.
Lissa Henderson, Tri Swim Coach