Be Prepared! Common Swimming Injuries and How to Dodge Them

Posted by MVMT Team

August is going to be an exciting month as 27 athletes are nominated to represent Canada in the swimming category for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games which will start on the 5th of August and ends on the 21st.

Swimming is one of those sports that use the body’s entire strength, flexibility and endurance. Yet, unfortunately, swimmers are prone to strains and injuries on their neck, shoulder, back, knees and even ears. Knee pain from swimming, for instance, is very common among athletes. In 1972, 34% of the 35 members of the Canadian Olympic team had knee problems.

It is often constant overwork and the failure to adhere proper techniques that lead to injuries. Even the slightest injury or trauma can lead to pain and tendinities. This might put your training on hold and it may take time before you can get back to doing laps.

It is essential to know the reasons why an injury happens and learn what you can do so you won’t to go through the same trouble again.

Inner knee problem

Inner knee pain, also known as swimmer’s knee, is common to breaststrokers and when this painful condition strikes, the athlete’s go-to strategy is to divert to doing dolphin breaststroke. The repetitive nature of swimming puts the knee joint in stress. Since the knee is not design to withstand constant external rotation during such routines, it becomes prone to injury. When this happen, you are advised to rest and ask technical guidance from your coach.

To avoid swimmer’s knee, do not forget to warm up, stretch and do strengthening exercises that are focused on your quadriceps and hamstrings. During swimming, make sure to alternate swimming strokes and have a rest period where you don’t execute breaststroke.

Hip problem

Poor execution of kicking when doing breaststroke can lead to bursitis or tendonitis of the hip joint. Hip pain reduces the swimmer’s ability to fully extend their hip during activity. The pelvis tends to tilt, overloading the facet joints which may then lead to pain in the hip and lower back.

Weak gluteal muscle is also a contributing factor to hip pain in swimmers. Core stability training and pilates-based exercises should always be a part of regular training in order to prevent hip problems.

Ear problem

Swimmer’s ear (medically termed as otitis externa) develops when the ears are exposed to moisture.  The ear canal is infected. You’ll have this strange feeling inside your ear like something is clogging.

To avoid this, watch out for warning about high bacterial counts and don’t swim during those days. Although you may be tempted to put an object in your ear, never attempt to itch or dig it. Protect the ear from irritants by putting cotton balls. If you don’t have punctured eardrum, you can use preventive eardrop before or after swimming.

Swimming cramp

Swimming cramp is a common problem to triathletes. Dehydration, fatigue and electrolyte deficiencies are often the cause of swimming-related cramps. Once the cramp strikes, immediately leave the water, stretch the affected area and massage until it relaxes. If the cramp persists, consult a professional.

Don’t forget to warm-up and warm down. Stay hydrated. As a swimmer, you need more than water. You should have more electrolytes and keep an eye on your health. Stretching is essential when it comes to maintaining flexibility during activity. A basic stretch you could do to prevent cramp is the gastrocnemius stretch. Stand with a leg in front of the other. Lean against the wall, bend the front leg while keeping the back leg straight. Heel on the floor until you feel the stretch at the back side of your lower leg.

The bottom line

Lessen repetitive strokes to avoid common swimming injuries. If an injury has already happened, among your focus is to rehabilitate the rotator cuff and re-strengthening the scapular hip and knees. Get back to swimming only when clearance is granted by your doctor, therapist or trainer.

Over-training may leave repetitive stress which may leads to hip, back, shoulder and/or knee pain. Warm up, stretching, resistance and core strengthening should always be a part of your training.

When injured, it is important to seek a rehabilitation program to correct imbalance and prevent repetitive strain that could worsen the problem. Do not prolong the problem as it may not only cause you further pain but it may also lengthen the rehabilitation process.

Give MVMT Physio & Chiro a call for a no obligation appointment and speak with a qualified clinician dedicated to help you get back to action.

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