View Full Version : Shoulder problems, tendonitis and freestyle

November 5th, 2008, 09:01 PM
I am a former high school and masters swimmer trying to get back in the water. I'm a breaststroker and never was much of a freestyler. I was always told "elbows high". My bad freestyle form has caught up with me. I'm going on 40 and the bad form just doesn't mix well with my aging body. Maybe I should have listened all those years ago-huh?

This summer I had a terrible case of tendonitis. I was in pain and had no idea why. I couldn't swim most of the summer. Thank God for a miracle cortisone shot! But, I still had to recover.

I'm ready to try again. I went to the pool today and did a 1650 in sets of 200's . Lots of kicking, and breastroke, mixed it up a lot. Trying to take it easy on the shoulder. Tonight, it's making the bad pop sound and a bit sore. I'm paranoid that it will flare up again.

I've been watching lots of u-tube technique videos. I know I need to keep my elbows higher and not dig in so much with my right arm. I'm overreaching as well. It's the right shoulder that hurts. Same stuff that I've been told to fix when I was a kid. I guess pain will make you listen.

I've also heard about breathing to the right instead of the left, I'm right handed. Does anyone think this helps? I try to breath bi-laterally when practicing.

It's so aggrivating. When you can't do something, you want to do it more than ever. I don't want to get the tendonitis again, it hurt so bad!

If anyone knows 1-2 excercises or tips to help with this I would appreciate it. I have a short attention span and can only hold onto a few bits of info. Looking for the most beneficial, simple, easy ideas.

Anyone had problems with this? Thanks, Lisa

November 6th, 2008, 09:52 AM
Sounds like you have tendinitis and need to do rotator cuff exercises to strengthen up. If the pain continues to get worse, is affecting your sleep or your daytime activities, you should see a doctor and get some PT.

After about 3 months back in the pool last year after an 11 year hiatus, my shoulder decided to give out, and I had never had shoulder problems throughout my swimming career. But It took me a good 3 months of PT plus an additional 2-3 months of RT exercises to get back to where I'm pain-free. I stayed in the pool but did a lot more drills, breastroke, and swimming with fins to take the stress off my shoulder and cut back to swimming 5 instead of 6 days/week.

Also, try to figure out which part of your stroke is causing the most pain and have a coach watch your technique. You may be able to make some adjustments that reduce the irritation significantly. My own problem was with my catch - I was leading with my thumb and pointer rather than my pinkie. Felt weird to switch but it's made a big difference.

There's a bunch of other threads on this discussion board that discuss shoulder problems - you should try to scan through them.

Also, here's a good link to more info on the USA Swimming site.

Good luck!

November 6th, 2008, 11:17 AM
Thanks for the tip. I think that it has to do with my catch as well. Also, need to keep my elbows higher. It's weird how my left arm has always looked good and my right arm has always been straigter and didn't look right. The left arm moves through much quicker. While the right arm is digging in to much. I never thought about the pinky entery instead of the thumb/index finger. I bet I'm doing that.

Are there any particular rotator cuff excercises that are good for this? There seem to be a million of them out there and I want to make sure that I do them correctly.

So far, I'm not in pain. I'm trying to avoid what happened over the summer. I couldn't sleep at night because of it. Strange how painful. Even when I didn't move. Don't want that again.

I'll scan around the rest of the sight.

Thanks, Lisa

November 6th, 2008, 11:44 AM
I would suggest that you go see a physical therapist so that you can learn exactly how to take care of your shoulders. Because the muscles you need to work on are very small, it's easy when you are first learning the exercises to do them improperly, using the wrong muscles for the movement and thus accomplishing nothing. Also, some exercises that are appropriate for uninjured people may not be appropriate for you right now. (If less than 1650 makes your shoulder sore, you seem injured to me.)

If I were you, I would also cross the person who gave a cortisone shot without any accompanying PT off my list of doctors to see again.

Don't despair. Lots of dedicated swimmers have been where you are, and have used a good program of PT, RC exercises, and technique adjustment to keep on swimming well.

November 7th, 2008, 07:37 AM
After 40, the recovery is really slow, because your muscles don't bounce back the way they used to.

I think jumping back in and swimming more than 800 may have been too much too soon. I've been recovering for five months now and only now swim more than 50 yards at a time or more than 500 in a workout. And no AFAP sets. (I'm doing A LOT of kicking.)

Even so, I'll have twinges for a day or so, but not nearly as bad as it was, when it hurt to hug my kids. And the twinges get smaller with each week. I'm hoping to be all the way back by January.

As for exercises, either see a PT or prepare yourself for a lot of trial and error - and setbacks. As a trial-error-setback victim, I found that some of the prescribed exercises were godsends and that others made the problem worse. I suspect that everyone has a different "best set" of PT exercises based on their age, body type, stage of recovery, athletic ability, etc., and a PT would help you find that set quickly.

November 7th, 2008, 12:43 PM
I finally got to the point where my shoulder problem, which I've been tinkering with and nursing and trying to manage myself for over a year, got so bad it drove me to a doctor with restricted ROM and pain in my pec, under my scapula, in my shoulder joint itself and up into my neck. I'm in PT now and I have to say I am really sorry I didn't go to the dr sooner. A little problem that I self-misdiagnosed and addressed incorrectly with exercises from the internet created a domino effect of muscle imbalances that have now given me either a frozen shoulder, a labrum tear or both. Don't mess around and try to self diagnose. The shoulder is so complex and I cannot believe how much this problem is complicating my life. It is fairly disabling.

I have my shoulder joint Kinesiotaped up and I cannot believe how much better it feels! I have never heard of Kinesiotaping but I am a believer now! I'd like to have my whole body Kinesiotaped. I bet I'll feel 19 again.