The shoulder is one of the most complex joints of the body, as it is distinguished from other joints of the body by a very wide range of motion, and this range is very important for the person and his daily life. Just imagine if you could not raise your arm above the head, how much more difficult your life would be, and for that for swimmers, shoulder pain after swimming is obstacle in their exercise.
This wide range of movement has a price in the structure of the shoulder joint, as it is not stable when compared to the rest of the joints, as this joint consists of the humerus bone incompletely attached to the bone of the scapula by muscle tendons and not fixed ligaments as in the rest of the joints of the body.
Swimming in particular requires moving the shoulder with its full range of motion, as the professional swimmer performs about 1000 laps in the shoulder every swimming round, and this puts great pressure on the shoulder joint, making it unbalanced, and the muscle tendons around the joint begin to rub against each other or with the bones, which causes inflammation.
About 90% of swimmers who visit the clinics of rheumatologists and orthopedists suffer from this problem and it is called at the present time as “swimmer’s shoulder”. What is this condition and how do you deal with it?
What is a swimmer’s shoulder?
As a result of the shoulder muscles getting tired from the continuous movement in this way, this leads to the friction of its tendons with the bones, which causes inflammation, which is the main cause of this pain and the inability to move.
You may have swimmer’s shoulder syndrome if you swim excessively or:
Swimming with a wrong technique stresses the shoulder more.
Stress and exercise beyond energy.
Previous shoulder injury.
But if you continue to exercise with inflammation:
You may face sore muscles in the shoulder.
Torn shoulder muscle tendon.
Inflammation of the shoulder pads.
Bone cartilage damage.
And for this reason, continuing swimming or doing the exercise that causes it while ignoring the pain will increase the pain after the session, and this pain may also develop to higher degrees and move the shoulder becomes difficult.
Symptoms of swimmer’s shoulder, how do you know that you have this syndrome?
The most important symptom of swimmer’s shoulder syndrome is shoulder pain, and this pain is characterized by being behind the shoulder so that you feel it as a deep pain in the muscles and not something superficial.
One of the distinguishing features of this pain is that it increases when the arm is raised above the head, as in swimming movements. If the inflammation progresses a lot, it may affect the tendons, including the biceps tendon, so the pain extends in front of the shoulder instead of behind it.
And often in the case of infection with this syndrome, you will notice these signs:
A decrease in the strength of the affected shoulder compared to the healthy shoulder.
An increase in the elasticity of the shoulder as if it was unbalanced, and you will notice this if one of the shoulders is injured and the other is not.
Decreased mobility and range You will notice that your shoulder is confined to a smaller range than before and you will lose some movements that need a wide range of movement, such as extending the arm over the head.
That is why it is preferable to leave swimming when feeling pain to prevent the condition from getting worse, and people with this syndrome are generally characterized by:
Inflammation of the biceps tendon and upper shoulder muscles, which may cause shoulder impingement syndrome.
Exercising problems such as exercising too much or overstretching or swimming the wrong way for a long time.
The onset of pain is often accompanied by muscle imbalance, weakness in one group compared to another, which causes problems in the shoulder.
Shoulder ligament imbalance is an injury factor before the pain even begins.
However, due to the nature of the swimming movement, swimming will lead in the long run to strengthening the muscles of the inner arm and the internal rotator muscles, leaving the opposite muscles (the external rotator muscles and the external pulling muscles) weak, and this leads to more tightness in the shoulder joint, causing inflammation and friction.
Read also: Elbow pain after push-ups, what is the cause and treatment?
Shoulder pain treatment after swimming (swimmer’s shoulder)
To build a successful treatment plan, you must go to the physiotherapists, as determining the stage and severity of the inflammation has a fundamental impact on the success of treatment and full recovery. With this, the treatment of swimmer’s shoulder includes steps that you may be able to do on your own.
Ice: Placing ice directly on the shoulder, especially after a swimming training session, will contribute to reducing inflammation.
The use of anti-inflammatories to reduce the inflammation of the affected shoulder.
Physiotherapy for weak muscles in the shoulder: As we mentioned above, shoulder injuries such as swimmer’s shoulder are associated with imbalance in the shoulder muscles, so the physiotherapist must determine appropriate exercises for these weak muscles (often a very simple exercise with low weights that targets the back shoulder muscles and some back muscles and chest).
Rest: swimming should be left for at least 24-48 hours, and sessions should be reduced after that to ensure that the inflammation subsides a little. You may also need to exclude some swimming patterns, such as butterfly swimming, according to each case.
Add some changes to the swimming sessions: it may be, for example, such as adding auxiliary rafts so that the shoulder is in a balanced position while swimming.
Some other professional procedures that you cannot do on your own, such as electrical muscle stimulation, muscle massage, use of ultrasound and other procedures that your doctor may deem appropriate.
The physical therapy accompanies the above step or steps to ensure that the shoulder functions are fully restored. The physical therapist may perform the massage himself, and he will also supervise exercises to strengthen the shoulder to prevent similar injuries in the future, in addition to this, the specialist will give you some instructions about swimming, sleeping and sitting in correct position.
Some physical therapy exercises for swimmer’s shoulder:
The upper back muscles, chest muscles, and back shoulder muscles are often the target of physiotherapy exercises, as they suffer from weakness in the case of the swimmer’s shoulder, so these exercises target these particular muscles, and should also be left in case of pain and go to the physiotherapist to develop a plan alternative.