Can swimming cause shoulder pain?

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Swimming is one sport that can cause shoulder pain. The shoulder is considered as a highly mobile and flexible joint in the body that is used by swimmers to rotate the arm overhead and quickly propel through the water. Always bear in mind that frequent use can lead to fatigue in the muscles that comprises the shoulder or rotator cuff.

Individuals who love to swim must find ways to prevent injuries upon experiencing shoulder pain. Knowing when to consult a doctor can help prevent inflammation that can disrupt with the sport in the long term.

What is swimmer’s shoulder?

There are 2 areas where a swimmer can experience a shoulder injury. The first is muscle pain that develops during the pull-through phase of swimming which is when the hand strikes the water. This simply means that the bones in the shoulder impinge on the biceps in the arm.

The other type of shoulder pain is when the arm leaves the water. This indicates that the rotator cuff muscles in the rear of the shoulder that assist with shoulder rotation are damaged. Every injury can be due to poor form, extensive training or even breathing only on one side while swimming which places additional strain on one shoulder.

Shoulder pain
Stretching the shoulders before swimming can minimize the risk for impingement that causes shoulder pain.

Stretching exercises

Stretching the shoulders before swimming can minimize the risk for impingement that causes shoulder pain. The suitable exercises include triceps stretches where the arm is reached upwards and bending the arm and elbow. Touch the hand to the shoulder blade and utilize the opposite arm to stretch out the shoulder.

The individual can also reach the arm across the chest to stretch the rotator cuff muscles. By utilizing the arms to stretch the head from side to side, it also helps stretch both the neck and the back.


Aside from stretching that helps manage and inhibit the pain, it is also recommended to engage in strengthening workouts that helps steady the rotator cuff to lessen the risk for injury.

What to do for severe injuries?

Aside from overuse injuries, the sport can also lead to shoulder pain as a result of a tear in the muscle or tendon as well as a fracture on the vertebra. If the individual could not move the shoulder after swimming or hangs in a loose manner or feels something unusual in the shoulder muscles, it might indicate a serious injury. It is vital to seek medical care if any of these symptoms are present.

Shoulder rotation is performed with or without using weights. Begin the exercise by bending the arm at the elbow and tucking it towards the waist with the forearm and fist faced on the wall in front. The arm should be rotated outwards in order to feel the shoulder blade muscles working. The next step is to rotate inwards and repeat 10 times.

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