The most common shoulder injury in swimmers is subacromial impingement (known as ‘Swimmers Shoulder’). Such impingement occurs when the tendons of the rotator cuff catch and rub against the nearby humorous bone in the upper arm. The pain experienced during any swimming stroke is a direct product of this ‘catching’ and can be exacerbated as you perform hundred and hundreds of swimming strokes during your workout. Three out of the four strokes in swimming are predominantly powered by the upper body, and the shoulder works hard when we propel though the water.
Swimming puts the shoulder joint through a large range of movement. Even though such movement is relatively low impact as exercise goes, the sheer number of rotations of the shoulder joint has the potential to irritate the shoulder if the swimmer is not performing their stroke technique correctly. In fact, all Strictly Swimming London coaches will teach our clients the correct swimming technique with this in mind and create better swimming technique to avoid such issues. Please be aware that using a kick board or swimming hand paddles can further exacerbate ‘swimmer’s shoulder’.
Although classed as a ball and socket joint, the shoulder has a very shallow socket compared to the hip joint. Even though a healthy shoulder of a swimmer should have no problems going through a full range of motion without any issues in the swimming stroke, the small size of the socket allows for this impingement and can lead to swimmer’s shoulder if recurring issues in the stroke are not corrected.
Shoulder impingement in the competitive swimmer is mostly caused by altered kinetics (movement and technique) due to muscle fatigue after hours and hours in the swimming pool. Strictly Swimming London coaches know this feeling only too well. Excessive training without adequate rest can cause swimmer’s shoulder.
Symptoms of subacromial impingement can be sudden or gradual and can be different from individual to individual. A decrease in some movement may be experienced but the shoulder will still be easy to move and won’t be stiff (like a frozen shoulder). Symptoms can include:
Swimmer’s Shoulder Test
There is a very simple arc test to check if your shoulder pain is due to subacromial impingement. Stand with both arms by your side, then lift the arm out to the side all the way above your head. If you feel pain around 40 to 60 degrees after raising the arm to the side, and then for the pain to disappear at 120 degrees then you can bet its due to impingement. When performing this test, the palm of the hand must always face towards the body which means the shoulder has to rotate half way through this lift of the arm to keep the palm facing inwards at all times.
Contributing Problems in Freestyle Swimming Technique
Incorrect swimming mechanics are the leading factor in creating shoulder problems. Some freestyle technique problems leading to impingement include:
Our Strictly Swimming London coaches will aim to identify the exact part of the stroke where the pain occurs and will work on making adjustments in your technique during lessons.
Diagnosis and Seeking Medical Advice
Seeking medical advice is important if you are experiencing shoulder pain in your swimming training or lessons after a few weeks. If not treated appropriately, the rotator cuff tendons can start to thin and tear. X-rays and other imagining techniques may be needed to assess the changes in structure of the joint. The presence of ‘lazy elbow’ where the elbow on the affected side cannot be lifted to the normal height out of the water.
Preventing and Managing Swimmer’s Shoulder
There are numerous exercises you can search online for all of the following:
Treating Swimmer’s Shoulder
Competitive swimmers are estimated to take well over a million arm strokes in just one year, and this repetitive motion puts swimmers higher at risk of developing shoulder pain. With a high likelihood of injury if you swim many hours per month, it is important to be aware of the ways to prevent this injury from occurring and what to do if it does happen to you. The easiest and possibly most effective treatment is rest. Take time off from swimming to allow the inflammation to reduce before returning to the pool. While resting, it is important to use ice to aid in decreasing inflammation of the tendons in the shoulder. And anti-inflammatory pain killers. You can also decrease the amount of overhead movements of the arm and stop any movement that brings on the pain. It is also vital to modify your stroke mechanics in the swimming pool to emphasize correct technique with each stroke to eliminate the element that is causing the pain. Our Strictly Swimming London coaches can show you all of the above in our private or group lessons and take a proper assessment of your problematic swimming stroke.
There are a variety of reasons that one to one swimming lessons work better than group lessons. As an adult, the biggest benefit is that one to one lessons will be tailored to your needs, goals and starting point. Strictly Swimming Lessons London will design your one to one lessons to bring the best results. Whether you are an adult looking for an introduction to swimming or an adult looking to improve your stroke or fitness, our swimming lessons will meet your needs and personal goals.
Beginner Level Adults
Adult’s wanting to learn to swim usually have a different starting point. Some adults have an absolute fear of getting into the swimming pool. Other adults can easily enter the swimming pool and swim with a few swimming strokes but have absolutely no balance in the water and need to then put their feet on the pool floor. Within Strictly Swimming Lessons London, our aim is to work on all problems in a clients’ stroke, breathing and balance in the water, amongst many other elements. Our tailor-made lessons will work on your problems during your private time with your coach (rather than working on the problems that the group may have). Many adults whom have never learned to swim often have a fear of the water. Splashing and movement of the water in the pool can often exacerbate this fear during a group lessons, whereas a quieter, more peaceful private swimming lessons is often a better option for people with a fear of water and wanting to develop their confidence in the water.
Improver Level Adults
Equally for adult ‘improver’ one to one swimming lessons, the biggest benefit is that clients will often progress much faster than in a group lesson. Strictly Swimming Coaches London will focus in more detail on your problems within your swimming strokes and correct your individual problems. One to one interaction with your coach will allow clients to excel to a higher level, as you discuss your problems in your swimming strokes in more detail. Our coaches will devise both a short term and long term plan for every one of our private clients, which only adds to the experience of taking private lessons. We also will arrange all of your one to one lessons at a time that is convenient to you. Many of our clients are unable to commit or make every week of our group lessons, so our one to one private lessons can be scheduled around your commitments
Are you finding it difficult to increase your speed in the water? Are you looking to combine some speed swimming training with your current endurance workouts? Do you find that you are not moving any faster in the pool or in your triathlon no matter how hard you try? Then let’s look at some tips on speed and sprint training that we can show you during our lessons.
How to train for sprint swimming?
Sprint swim training can be gruelling and exhausting, but having a good coach taking you through the best way to develop these steps will lead to you increasing your power and speed in the water (even over longer distances). Developing your stroke and technique are obviously vital in improving performance and overall speed in the water, but what are the main elements that you should be looking for when aiming at ‘speed work’ in the pool?
Breathing during sprint swimming
Breath-holding (otherwise known as hypoxic work) is part of swimming at top speed. This method includes limiting the number of breaths per length or over a given distance. Some swimmers hold their breath for the entire length of the pool, whilst others breathe once per length, or equally novice swimmers may start with taking a breath every five arm strokes. All these techniques will develop your breath holding ability.
During sprinting, it is imperative that a swimmer acclimatises to swimming at maximum effort and the breathing demands that such effort entails.
The ability to hold your breath during speed swim training can be developed more and more over time. When performing sprint freestyle or butterfly swimming, a single breath will interrupt the power, acceleration and flow of the stroke, hence why we see Olympic 50 metre sprinters not turning for a breath at all when racing.
Stroke rate and length
When performing sprint and speed sets, always try and increase your stroke rate (number of strokes per length) but maintain your stroke length at the same time. If you can increase your stroke rate without shortening your stroke length, you will inevitably swim faster.
Develop a strong kick
Swimming faster not only requires the arms to increase in speed but also the leg kick at the same to time (on any of the four strokes). The timing of the legs to the arms also needs to be maintained no matter if you are swimming at 60% effort or maximum effort. Using fins during sprint training can also benefit a fast and powerful leg kick.
Recruiting fast twitch fibres
Performing short, sharp sprints in the water over very short distances will develop fast twitch fibres in the muscle. Such fibres are needed for better sprinting and you can change your physiology and biochemistry with speed work in the pool. As a distance swimmer or triathlete, this recruitment of fast twitch fibres can be developed over time and you will see a difference in your sprinting ability in both training and in racing.
When to perform sprinting and speed work
Learning how it feels to swim fast is important, however, this does not mean that sprint swimming should be done during every workout. Depending on experience of this kind of training, we would not recommend sprint training every day but limit it to 3 times per week (please talk with your coach and we can advise you more).
On the whole, sprint training is performed at a higher intensity than distance training. Swimming at race pace can quickly lead to a spike in your heart rate and the build up of lactic acid in your muscles. The ability to delay the onset of lactic acid can be achieved with regular sprint (speed) work in the pool. With practice, you will see yourself your sprint training move to entirely different level.
One The longest swimming pool in the world can fit ten Olympic swimming pools from end to end. The Chrystal Lagoon in Chile measures 1013 metres.
Two If the average competitive swimmer takes 32 freestyle strokes to complete one 50 metre length of an Olympic pool, then it would take around 650 strokes to complete just one length of the Chrystal Lagoon pool.
Three Swim fins are said to be invented by US President Benjamin Franklin. A very keen swimmer, he actually attached his swim fins to his hands rather than his feet to propel himself better through the water.
Four Australia builds more swimming pools per capita than any other nation on the planet.
Five Amazingly, elephants swim underwater using their trunks as snorkels to breathe (they can actually swim 20 miles per day using this technique).
Six The first Olympic swimming competitions did not even take place in a pool. The first Olympic swimming events took place in the Mediterranean, the next in the River Seine and the next in a man made lake.
SevenThe original modern 1896 Olympics in Athens held a 100 metres race for sailors only.
Eight The second ever modern Olympics in Paris held an underwater race in the Seine, plus an obstacle course race.
Nine In 1988 Thomas Gregory was the youngest person ever to swim across the English Channel at the mere age of 11 years and 336 days (a feat that cannot be bettered as there is a minimum age rule nowadays of 16 years and over).
Ten The oldest age category in competitive Masters Swimming is currently 100 to 104 years with the newest world record holder being George Corones of Australia taking 35 seconds off the previous 50 metre freestyle world record in February 2018.
One the oldest stroke is breaststroke – it is the slowest of the four swimming strokes and the stroke that receives the most disqualifications of swimmers in competition
Two the false start is the most common reason for disqualification in competitive swimming, and an early take over is the most common reason for relay teams
Three the newest stroke is butterfly which derived from the breaststroke when a group of American swimmers realised in the 1930’s that breaststroke was faster to swim by recovering the arms over the top of the water
Four the butterfly stroke was first competed with a breaststroke leg kick
Five the youngest swimmer to compete at the World Championships, was 10 year olds old. Alzain Tareq from Bahrain competed in the 50 metres butterfly in 2015.
Six currently there are no age restrictions on World Championship entrants, however, strangely swimmers must be at least 14 years to compete in the World Junior Swimming Championships
Seven the first cruise ship to have a swimming pool was the Titanic but it was only available to first class passengers
Eight worldwide men are twice as likely to drown than women as they are often exposed to water more than women and secondly, due to men’s riskier behaviour
Nine the youngest world swimming champion was Ian Thorpe at the age of just 15 in the 400 metres freestyle in Perth in 1998
Ten michael phelps’ wingspan is longer than he is tall. From fingertip to fingertip, michael’s wingspan measures 6 feet 8 inches, and he is 6 feet 4 inches tall
Paul started competing in swimming from the age of 8 and eventually went on to represent his country all over the world. During his time at University, Paul specialised in Aquatics and the Biomechanics of Swimming and produced numerous theses on swimming performance.