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Swim Better and SAFER This Summer! Don't Hurt Your Body

Whether you are a recreational swimmer, competitive athlete, or triathlete, it’s important to ask yourself these questions before you hit the water. Even though each different stroke uses different groups of muscles, the body itself needs to endure great flexibility with great dynamic stability in order to be an efficient swimmer. Being aware of these two things may help save you from pain and potentially career-ending trauma.

Are you at RISK?

Joint Damage: I’ve treated numerous swimmers and I have found many suffer from chronic injuries to the neck, shoulder, and lower back. These types of injuries are typically incurred from the explosiveness of the sport.

Most of the body's rotational movement comes from the shoulders, hip, and spine. If these rotational areas are not “on-axis” and moving appropriately, your body will demand and exceed stresses to different areas of the body.

Nerve Damage: There are many areas in the body where nerves are pinched and scar tissue has formed to “tack” its ability to move freely between structures. The problem with nerve damage is that it can create numbness, tingling, and loss of strength. When any of these problems occur, you are more susceptible to muscle tears in the shoulder due to the loads the shoulder cannot withstand.

What can you do?

See a physical therapist that has experience working with athletes. Get your shoulders and hip “on-axis” with manual therapy and exercises to make the joints more stable. This will sometimes require mobility of the nerves to glide past muscles and other structures so you could reach your full flexible potential without incurring injuries.

Shoulder blade strengthening is also a key to having a limber but stronger upper body.

To strengthen your core muscles you should do plank exercises. Your abdomen is the “bridge” between that hip and shoulder strength.

If you think you may not be ready for swimming laps but you still want to get in the pool to work up a sweat, we have some exercises for you! Give them a try if you're looking for a low-impact way to get a good workout in the pool!

Remember we only have one body and if compensations occur, you end up with a lot of trouble down your swim lane.

Dr. Justin C. Lin


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