Chiropractic Treatment For Swimmer's Shoulder

Overuse of shoulder and back muscles is a common cause of shoulder pain and injury in swimmers, according to USA Swimming. The repetitive motion of the swimming stroke can lead to fatigue of muscle groups surrounding the shoulder and in the upper back. Swimmers shoulder is a preventable condition, but if it occurs and is treated promptly, the condition generally responds to chiropractic care.

Why Problems Occur

Improper stroke technique can make you more susceptible to shoulder impingement -- a condition that occurs when the tendons and bursa between the top of the upper arm and tip of the shoulder become inflamed. If you fail to address shoulder pain before it becomes chronic, rotator cuff injury can occur, especially if your swim technique causes overuse of your smaller shoulder muscles. But maintaining adequate body roll allows the arm to remain close to the scapula, reducing stress on the soft tissues in the shoulder region.

How Chiropractic Treatment Can Help

Chiropractic care, from a clinic like Dils Chiropractic, can reduce the recovery time following a shoulder injury. Receiving early treatment for problems can prevent impairments that may require a long period of recovery or the need to see an orthopedic surgeon. The findings of a case study reported by the American Chiropractic Association recommend chiropractic treatment that includes manual manipulation, soft-tissue therapy, and strengthening exercises and stretches before the use of more invasive medical procedures to resolve pain.

While stretching exercise along with resistance and strength training exercises to address shoulder-muscle imbalances likely will be part of your treatment program, your chiropractor also may address poor posture. Slouched posture can cause a rigid back and result in weak muscles at the back of the shoulder, both of which can lead to pain and problems with stroke technique.

As part of your treatment, your chiropractor will give you instructions on flexibility exercises for the muscles at the front of your shoulder and chest. Performing flexibility exercises along with exercises to strengthen the scapular muscles can improve your posture and give you more strength for the pull-through phase of your swim stroke.

Steps to Take During Recovery

If you are an athletic swimmer suffering from a shoulder injury, taking these steps may allow you to continue swimming even while you are involved in a rehabilitation program.

  • Be aware of your body posture while you swim. Keep your shoulders back and chest forward. Developing the proper upper body posture gives you more power to pull yourself through the water.

  • Use a middle finger first entry. The palm of your hand should be facing down.

  • Use a swim technique, such as the bent arm catch technique. Instead of using the muscles in your shoulder to pull through the water, this technique requires you to use the larger and stronger muscles in your chest and back.

  • Avoid repetitive patterns by alternating swim strokes.

  • Reduce the distance you swim during training practices. Cutting down on the frequency of swimming practices also helps prevent fatigue, which can make a shoulder injury worse.

  • Don't use kickboards or hand paddles. Kickboards elevate the arms, which when combined with the overuse of the shoulder joint and muscles can lead to inflammation within the shoulder joint. Hand paddles also put more stress on your upper extremities. Take the stress off your shoulders by using swim fins or flippers to improve your body position and kick strength and help your legs propel you forward.