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Most Common Injuries Experienced by Swimmers

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ATHLETES ARE VERY DISCIPLINED AND RESPONSIBLE CONSIDERING THEIR LIFE SCHEDULE.

Most of them, specifically swimmers, go through the repetitive training – work/school – training cycle every day. This enough shows how responsible and hardworking athletes can be.

And because they are persistent by nature, they have the tendency to push themselves further too much to achieve their goals. For example, swimmers may be geared towards beating records from time to time or doubling the intensity of their workouts. In the end,swimmers may end up experiencing over-fatigue or worse, injuries.

We’ve seen many cases: of runners briskly finishing a race then stumbling down upon feeling an unfamiliar pain on their hamstrings,m of volleyball players jumping as high as they can to do that winning spike but ending up with torn ACL, and many other cases of unexpected sports outcomes. Yes, we’ve seen many athletes having the time of their lives as they do the sport they love but suddenly stopping because of physiological problems.

Even if swimming is considered as a safe competitive sport, injuries may still occur. This may be caused by muscle overuse and improperswimming forms. According to the studies by Journal Sports Health (May-June 2012), 91% of elite swimmers ages 13-25 years old experienced shoulder injury, 86% of breaststroke swimmers experienced knee pain, while 50% of butterfly swimmers and 47% breaststroke swimmers suffered from low back pain. Let’s look at some of the common injuries experienced by swimmers one by one:

SHOULDER INJURY
For swimmers, the shoulder is the body part most susceptible to injuries. Since the sport is mostly reliant on upper body movements, it tends to be overused. Common injuries are instability, rotatory cuff (responsible for lifting and rotating movements of shoulder) impingement, and biceps tendinitis. These may be caused by putting too much pressure on the shoulder, or excessive use of swim paddles. Shoulders can also be injured when the thumb enters the water first or when over-extension happens as the arm crosses the middle of the body.

Prevention boils down to having proper form and technique. Correct stroke can avoid shoulder injuries. Another way to prevent shoulder muscle strain is to avoid overusing swim paddles.

KNEE INJURY
This type of injury can be experienced when kicking or pushing the wall or in most cases, when doing breaststroke kicks. The latter condition is also known as breaststroker’s knee which can be associated with overtraining, lack of warm up, and hip inflexibility. Others experience injuries because of wide forceful kicks. If swelling and lesser mobility occurs then the knee could possibly be injured. Knee discomfort can be lessened through warm-ups and cool down sessions. Proper stretches and exercises can aid in injury
prevention. In cases when pain occurs, ice application can reduce swelling.

LOWER BACK INJURY
Lower back injury or spondyl olysis is a common injury experienced during butterfly as swimmers do dolphin kicks. When swimmers arch their backs, pressure on the spine can result to soreness and stiffness. This injury can be experienced when the lower back is hyper extended. Other factors which may contribute to low back injury are poor head and body position under water, abrupt increase in workout volume, and overusage of training equipment (which leads to hyperextension).

Mild forms of lower back injury may be addressed through certain exercises such as twists, crunches, and stretches. But when this feeling occurs every now and then,swimmers should consult a doctor for proper rehabilitation procedures.

In general, injuries can be prevented when observing proper form in swimming. Intense exercises may not be avoided during trainings, but remember not to overwork your body. Overused muscles can lead to injury. Try different strength exercises so that other muscle groups can support targeted body parts during training or swimming. Also, do
not forget to do workout recovery. This can help in regenerating worn out muscles. Stay safe during trainings!

Stephanie Ledesma

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