Swimmer's shoulder is a type of either tendonitis or bursitis that occurs in the shoulder joint. The tendon or bursa gets pinched and then swollen. The pain is felt either on the top of the shoulder or part way down the upper arm and sometimes will present only after a training session when you cool down. It is very common in older swimmers and in people who increase their volume of training with an event coming up.
Contributing factors can include:
·Previous shoulder injury.
·Sub-optimal swimming technique.
·Poor shoulder flexibility, especially internal rotation.
·Lack of recovery time.
If you start to develop shoulder pain and it persists for more than two weeks, seek treatment early. Left unchecked, tendonitis and bursitis can become chronic and then much harder to treat.
Your physiotherapist will assess your shoulder and determine an action plan. This may include specific stretches, rotator-cuff strengthening and thoracic spine or neck mobilisation. Scans are not usually required in the early stages but can be useful if the pain is not improving. Occasionally surgery is required to decompress the tendon or bursa and this is more common in competitive swimmers.
Shoulder pain is common in long-distance swimmers but in most cases is treatable if caught early and the correct rehabilitation is performed. Don't wait for it to get better, see your physiotherapist today.
Adam Floyd treats at Regenerate Physiotherapy, Churchlands.