Friday, March 18, 2011

Swimmer's Shoulder

This year I've been dealing with nagging shoulder pain with swimming and biking aero. Despite some early season frustration, I think I've been cured. To help out my fellow triathletes who may be experiencing the same thing, I thought I would share what I've learned from research as well as from my own personal rehab. To keep it simple~ I'm breaking it down into a "to do" list.

In my particular case, I've been dealing with shoulder impingement. What is impingement you ask? Impingement occurs when the rotator cuff tendons are compressed by part of the shoulder blade(acromion) with overhead activity. As the arm is lifted, the acromion rubs, or "impinges" on, the surface of the rotator cuff. This causes pain and limits movement. Please note these guidelines are only specific to that diagnosis.
Heidi's "To Do's" for Swimmer's Shoulder

1. Take a good look at your posture.

Do you have a forward head or rounded shoulders? Do you sit all day in a slumped position at your job/school?
2. Try out a posture shirt.

Although there is no published research yet to support their usage, they can help increase your postural awareness and proprioception. This is the one I've been using for some time from Evidence Based Apparel:
Note: it has to fit very tight to get the job done. I have worn mine throughout the work day and during bike trainer sessions. Because of it's tight fit, I've only worn in it for 1-3 hours at a time.

3. Strengthen your rotator cuff and scapular stabilizers!
Here are my favorite exercises that I've been doing:
4. Avoid kick boards as they put your shoulder in a position of impingement.

5. Stay away from the paddles.

6. REST if you can until you fix the root of the problem.

7. If you can't rest, keep your workouts below 4000 m until the pain subsides.

8. Have a professional take a look at your stroke.

9. See a good sports physical therapist :)

10. And since most of you will ignore #6, I will say it one more time: REST!

Happy Friday!

And don't forget Chloe's sweet Betty designs give away. Their products are sick! In fact, I just caved and ordered a wrist band and shorts last night.


  1. I am so sorry that you have been having problems but am glad that they are getting better!

    Thanks for all the good advice! I will have to try and remember these hints.

  2. Great post! Very curious about that posture top. I've heard of them but haven't bought in yet. Maybe it's time because I've dealt with a lot of issues you mention here.

    Hope you heal quickly :)

  3. I'm so sorry you've been dealing with shoulder pain! Hopefully it will heal soon! Thanks for all of the tips!

  4. The good news is that your cured!!

    Sometimes my shoulder clicks when I swim, did yours?

  5. As soon as I saw the picture in #1 I immediately sat up straight.

    I hope it heals up soon.

  6. Hey love this:) your's is much better than mine bc you have fun pics! Can i add something?
    1) I really found that working T spine ( Thoracic) rotation to the side opposite the pain has helped. ie L pain, work R T spine rotation. I can email ya a few for that that take out the L spine

    2) KT is good, as well, i have had a ton of shoulder "things" that are all from a R dominant side ( pain is on the L) and its all come down to keeping my Lats loose ( haha, well trying) and the T spine work.

    As for jobs post PT School..lotsa thoughts. I will email ya!

  7. My swim coach recommends small paddles for everyone to avoid shoulder issues, even his elite swimmers- the extra size is not worth it, apparently. My paddles barely extend beyond the outline of my hand, but are still effective for training. One way to continue to use paddles to train but avoid shoulder problems...

  8. Swimmer shoulder... yeah... those were the days of competative swimming for me! Glad your swimmer shoulder problems are getting better!

  9. thanx everyone for their added tips!

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