Total Health

Chiropractic care for swimmers

January 23rd, 2022 by
Category: Uncategorized

Male open water swimmer wearing swim cap and googles

Both a recreational activity and a sport, swimming is a low-impact exercise often recommended for those who struggle with high-impact sports as swimming tends to be gentler on your body and your joints. Despite being a low impact activity, swimming is still physically demanding because the water acts as natural weight resistance, requiring consistent motion and endurance to pull off. 

Swimming is achieved by propelling your body through water utilizing a combination of several upper and lower body movements; these repetitive movements, if done incorrectly, can cause damage to joints, muscles, tendons and ligaments over time.

Chiropractic Care

Chiropractors are allied health professionals that diagnose and treat issues related to the nervous and musculoskeletal systems. Chiropractic care is designed to keep the patient’s body in its optimal condition by reducing pain, locating subluxations, correcting the body’s alignment and improve overall physical function.

Whether for competition or purely recreation, Chiropractic care may be beneficial, no matter what category of swimming you fall into. Chiropractors help people of all ages with musculoskeletal issues. Treatment intensity and force can vary from patient to patient. All patients are screened during an initial consultation to ensure Chiropractic care is suitable for them. Followed by a report of findings, a care plan is designed for the individual’s specific needs. Lastly, Chiropractic adjustments. Each adjustment is tailored specifically for each patient.The adjustment can allow a release in built-up tension throughout the joints, allowing the body’s natural ability to reconfigure itself with the adjustment.

Common Swimming Injuries 

Swimmer’s Shoulder

Your shoulder is composed of three bones: the scapula (shoulder-blade), the clavicle (collarbone), and the humerus (upper-arm-bone), which come together to make up your shoulder joint. This composite joint is why shoulder injuries are the most common injury suffered by swimmers. 

Due to swimming’s repetitive nature, arm movement involved in most swimming techniques can cause significant strain for rotator cuffs or shoulder/arm muscles when done improperly.

Reaching overhead and turning your hand inward (freestyle stroke) with poor stroke mechanics can pin your rotator cuff tendons or shoulder bursa beneath your shoulder blade’s acromion process. This may result in painful inflammation of the bicep tendon and shoulder instability as the weakened and damaged muscles, ligaments, and tendons surrounding the shoulder joint become unable to effectively support the ball within the socket.

Swimmer’s Knee

Commonly known as a breaststroker’s knee, the swimmer’s knee is a common swimming injury that often affects breaststroke swimmers. The problem typically arises with the improper performance of the whip kick, where inexperienced swimmers put too much stress on the knee’s inner ligaments.

Repeating this improper series of breaststroke kicks, the knee experiences unnatural external rotation as the legs extend during the breaststroke kick, putting strain on the medial collateral ligament.

Back & Neck pain

Poor breathing technique; having a wrong head-turn timing every time you breathe while swimming may cause your back and neck to misalign consistently.

While taking breaths, the upper spine may be jerked backward repetitively during front-strokes.

During butterfly and breaststroke strokes, your lower spine is forced to arch backward. These movements put pressure on the facet joints in the back of your spine, which can cause back & neck problems. Freestyle and backstroke don’t cause your back to arch, but the repetitive rotation in your lower back puts you at risk of developing or worsening pain in your discs and other structures.

Treatment & Prevention of Swimming Injuries

Swimmer’s Shoulder

Treatment of swimmer’s shoulder-type injuries of minor severity will typically begin with pain management, anti-inflammatory medicines, Chiropractic care and physical therapy. On the contrary, orthopedic surgery will likely be recommended in more serious cases. 

It can usually prevented by correcting your stroke and paying close attention to the technique performed.

Swimmer’s Knee

Physiotherapy or any physician-approved exercise can help strengthen the muscles within that area and treat the injured knee with ice packs at least two times per day. 

A swimmer’s loss of strength in the muscle region that span the knee-joint, which are usually the hip adductors and abductors, causes knee instability and medial collateral ligament strain throughout the stroke. 

This is why regular therapies are needed to reduce swelling with a prevention done by correcting your hip abduction angle, the angle at which your leg moves away from your hip.

Back & Neck pain

When it comes to back and/or neck pain, consulting with a health professional (such as a Chiropractor) in case of the possibility of misalignment to your neck and back’s musculoskeletal structures can be a good idea, as each case is unique and can vary in severity. Back and neck pain from swimming can be prevented by keeping your head aligned with your spine, improve upon your breathing timing while swimming

If you’ve ever been meaning to start swimming lessons and have done some research but were fearful of the common swimming injuries listed above, don’t fret, as Total Health Chiropractic, Chiropractors and other qualified health professionals can help ensure your swimming experience is a pain free one!

Article contributed by Nereids Aquatic Coaching.


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