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Swimmer's Shoulder: Prevention and Rehabilitation Strategies

What is Swimmer's Shoulder?

Swimmer's shoulder refers to a range of painful shoulder injuries that result from the repetitive motion of swimming. It is not a specific condition but a term used to describe various shoulder problems, including tendonitis, bursitis, and impingement. This condition is particularly common among competitive swimmers due to the high volume and intensity of their training.

Symptoms and Causes

The symptoms of swimmer's shoulder typically include pain in the shoulder area, especially during or after swimming, a decreased range of motion, and weakness in the shoulder muscles. The primary causes are repetitive overuse and improper technique. Factors such as poor stroke mechanics, inadequate warm-up, and muscle imbalances can contribute to the development of swimmer's shoulder. For example, swimmers who do not maintain proper form while performing the freestyle stroke may place undue stress on their shoulder joints.

Treatment and Prevention

Effective treatment and prevention strategies for swimmer's shoulder focus on reducing pain, improving shoulder function, and preventing recurrence. Initial treatment often involves rest, ice, and anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen or naproxen to alleviate pain and swelling. Physical therapy exercises that strengthen the shoulder muscles and improve flexibility are crucial for rehabilitation. Proper warm-up routines are essential to prepare the shoulder for the demands of swimming; these can include dynamic stretches like arm circles and shoulder rotations. Preventative measures include regular strength training and ensuring correct swimming techniques. For instance, incorporating exercises that target the rotator cuff and shoulder blade muscles can enhance shoulder stability and reduce the risk of injury.

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