November 22nd, 2013

Health N' Sports: Swim Skills and Factors

Staff Report

Health N' Sports: Swim Skills and Factors
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Louisville Orthopaedic Clinic shares insight on swimming

As a part of the Louisville Orthopaedic Clinic, the Sports Rehab Team physical therapists are knowledgeable and trained in the latest advancements and techniques available in sports rehabilitation.

On a weekly basis, the Health N’ Sports Update will give information on prevention, recovery, and include special offers, as well as general health tips that would be beneficial to all. If there is a specific topic you’d like to know or hear more about, email future suggestions to

When searching for a new sport or activity, there isn’t a better choice than swimming.  Swimming can begin at a young age and continued throughout one’s entire life.  Due to the non-impact nature of swimming, joints take little stress and there isn’t a high risk of traumatic injury.  With all of this being said, swimmers aren’t immune to injury. 

Louisville Orthopaedic Clinic gives answers to common questions about swimming injuries. St. Xavier High School Head Swim Coach Todd Larkin gives insight to the questions.

1) What are the most common injuries for swimmers?

Chronic issues of the shoulder are the most common problem sustained by swimmers.  The shoulder is one of the most complex joints of the body and it has an important role in all swimming strokes.   Here are some common examples of chronic shoulder conditions:


                  Rotator cuff tendinitis

                  Shoulder impingement

                  Shoulder instability

                  Bicep tendinitis


TL: Injuries vary, it used to be shoulders, however, with good strength building, they have been drastically reduced.

2) Cross training and weights are popular for swimmers to train to get their best times in the pool.

What age should swimmers start to consider cross training or weights? 

Swimming injuries of the shoulder occur for a number of reasons.  Since swimming injuries usually develop over time, there are usually one or more problems that need to be addressed before the problem is solved.  The following are some issues, which can lead to shoulder injuries in swimming:

Over-training: Not enough rest and not cross-training can lead chronic conditions

Poor or incorrect swimming stroke technique: Improper swimming strokes can be  stressful to the muscles and joints

Weak core muscles: The core provides stability for the entire body and strong core muscles reduce the amount of stress on the rest of the body 

Scapular dysfunction: The scapula, also known as the shoulder blade, and surrounding muscles should all work in a synchronized pattern.  If not, more stress is placed on the shoulder 

Weak rotator cuff muscles: Weakness of one or more of the rotator cuff muscles can cause issues especially in repetitive overhead activates found in swimming

TD: Cross training can start early, weights need to begin much later. You don't want to stunt growth.

3) What exercises can help prevent injury for swimmers this season?

In a perfect world, injuries are addressed and prevented before they occur.  Proper coaching and instruction is probably the most important tool in order to prevent swimming injuries.  If prevention fails, rest and proper treatment of the condition can eliminate symptoms and return the athlete back to the water.  For more information regarding swimming related injury prevention, please visit  The injury prevention portion of the website contains a very information video demonstrating numerous shoulder exercises. 

TD: A proper dry land routine featuring good core work and Pre and Post stretching routines are helpful.

-Mike Mehring, ATC-

Louisville Orthopaedic Cilnic and Sports Rehab Center                                                          

4130 Dutchman’s Ln, Ste. 300 

Louisville, KY 40207                            

Ph. 502-897-1794   


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