Rotator Cuff Injury in Swimming : Swimming Injuries

What are the causes of Rotator Cuff Injury in Swimming?

The rotator cuffs are a group of muscles which provide the shoulder joint with a stable support. Sports like swimming which repeatedly use the shoulder muscles when performing strokes are at more risk of causing injury. As swimming involves a lot of shoulder rotation when performing strokes it often puts the rotator cuff muscles under pressure and increased pressure can cause the muscles to tear or become inflamed. There are two types of tears: an acute tear which is a sudden tear in the shoulder due to extreme pressure on the shoulder and a chronic tear which happens over a period of time. A chronic tear is more likely to occur when swimming as the repeated motion of rotating the shoulder can cause the rotator cuffs to become inflamed.

Symptoms of Rotator Cuff Injury

A typical symptom of rotator cuff injury is pain in the shoulders that heightens and gets worse at night and can affect a person’s sleep. Other symptoms include feeling weak in the shoulders and a gradual worsening of pain over time. Severe symptoms can include not being able to extend the arm to the side or undertake activities such as swimming because you are unable to perform the strokes without feeling severe pain. If the pain in the shoulder persists for more than two days you would have to consult your doctor immediately. If you are unable to work or move the shoulder and arm it is best to go to the hospital so that a possible tear can be investigated.

Medication for Rotator Cuff Injury

The medication varies from steroid medication to alternative healing methods according to the severity of the tears however the doctor will prescribe the correct medication based on your medical history and age. Applying ice to the affected area can reduce inflammation and reduce the pain also alternating heat and ice can be beneficial. Resting the arm in a sling or elastic wrap can help to ease the pain and can prevent the pain from becoming worse. Surgery may be required if the pain is severe and X-rays and examinations show that the it is necessary for surgery to be done on the shoulder, however your doctor will inform you if this procedure needs to be done.

Prevention of Rotator Cuff Injury

Stretching your muscles with a warm up before swimming can help to prevent injury as it gets your body warmed up and prepared for activity. Knowing how to perform certain strokes properly can help prevent injury to the shoulder. As repeated shoulder rotation can cause a chronic tear in the rotator cuff muscles it is best not to over work your shoulder muscles when swimming. Specific shoulder exercises can be provided by a physiotherapist and it is always best to consult a physiotherapist if you have had previous injuries to the shoulder or back which could affect your ability to perform when swimming. Ensure that you spend equal time working all your muscles prior to swimming.

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