View Full Version : injury or just sore?

June 30th, 2003, 10:42 PM
Hi All,
By now I'm sure you've all heard me praise how great it is to be back after 10 years off...so this note is a little different.

How does one know if the shoulders are just sore, or if there is an onset of injury (like tendonitus)?

And, when swimming front quadrant, how far should the hand reach toward the wall? In TI it recommends reaching really far out, which I've been doing, and consequently really reaching out exagerating the shoulder. Maybe I shouldn't do this?

Thanks for any advice--I don't want to be out before I even have a chance to start!

Jerrycat :confused:

June 30th, 2003, 11:45 PM
You can keep swimming and see if the pain gets worse or goes away.
If the pain DOESN'T go away--then you've got tendonitis. Good preventive measures (for either case) are to use some kind of anti-inflammatory (but just because the pain goes away is no reason to greatly increase your daily workout) and start using ice after swimming and perhaps add stretching BEFORE and AFTER swimming.

If memory serves me correctly--aren't you the person who didn't swim for a number of years and then started back to swimming (hard and with increasing yardage) and I think everyone told you --too much + too fast = shoulder problems?

July 1st, 2003, 06:43 AM
(ms grupp, I think that was someone else??)

jerrycat, i'll echo what msgrupp recommended and i'll suggest what i suggested to the previous poster: i've had my share of shoulder aches and pains and, generally speaking, i've found that moderate rest, technique adjustment, icing, ibuprofen and rotor cuff exercises helped. however, what has really helped in the last incident of shoulder pain was the introduction of short fins to my workout. since i've used them, the tendonitis has completely cleared up (the use of fins, unfortunately, has caused other problems with my training- does anyone know of a good fins' anonymous group? ). it may also help to be mindful of your sleeping positions at night.

good luck with it!


July 1st, 2003, 09:53 AM
Thanks for the feedback. The milage I've been doing is about 2000-2600 per swim, which I've built up to during the past 8 weeks. And, really I think it's the "modern" breaststroke technique that is making me sore...the shrugging shoulders part of it. So, we'll see what happens as I take your recommendations. I think I'm fine, but am just a little overly cautious becuase swimming is my last option to race due to other injuries in other sports. I don't want to ruin it.

Have a wonderful day! ;)

Gareth Eckley
July 1st, 2003, 12:07 PM
First I think in general we tend to see or read how the elite swimmers swim and then try to duplicate ourselves. This can cause problems as every elite swimmer has great flexibility, is often hyper-mobile and can get their limbs into very effective positions. Major studies have shown that world record holders are usually the most flexible of their group.

Popov, Thorpe, Gary Hall Jr etc tend to have an arm stroke where the hand is extended on entry far and the shoulder is shifted forward and the elbow raised up and rotated out as the catch is made. At the same time the hand which has been pitched thumb down is rotated so that the fingers point to the bottom of the pool and the palm faces directly back. At this point the elbow has been left as far forward and as high as possible. The hand and forearm are at 90 to the water surface with the upper arm almost parallel to the water surface.

This arm position is very hard for most people to achieve and the shifting forward of the shoulder causes major shoulder impingement in people with average flexibility. I myself have swum this way with no shoulder problems, but i am lucky as i have very mobile shoulders. I started out coaching my swimmers this way, however, one of my swimmers developed shoulder problems and i quickly did a ton of research in the area of swimming and shoulder injury. I have now changed how i teach the arm stroke.

One link I will give you which discusses this is- http://www.zoomers.net/new-distanceperstroke.htm " Swimming Fastest " by Ernest Magaschilo has very good info on this, also " Breakthrough Swimming " by Cecil Colwin has a lot of info on how the arm should move through the water. Both of these books are very new and up to date.

I think that over-reaching can cause problems, the hand should not exert pressure against the water until the arm and forearm are facing directly backwards. The reasons are:

1- Increased drag is caused if pressure is applied to early as the body rises up. have you seen swimmers in meets whose upper body seems to rise and fall as the stroke. This movement up and down will slow you more than the propulsion that you get from the hand.

2- Applying pressure while the hand is fully extended puts a lot of strain on the shoulder joint.

The time to apply pressure is when catch is made and then apply smooth continuos acceleration throughout the stroke until the end phase, where as the hand reaches the hip, pressure is released and the palm is turned into the body and recovery starts. There is no benefit in pushing past the hip as the forearm starts to create drag as it raises towards the water by pushing your body down.

The hard part is waiting at the front end of the stroke until your arm is in the correct position but not pushing through this will take a lot of pressure off your shoulders. I tell my swimmers to have soft hand entry, let the body roll extend the hand and try to move into the catch position smoothly. Then you can apply power. Try to allow your shoulders to shrug forward SLOWLY as you move through the catch instead of a fast vigorous thrusting forward. In other words keep the high elbow but instead of deliberately forcing that position allow it to happen naturally as your hand moves down and backwards.

Phew, i am exhausted from writing this. the books i mention have loads of info on this. One thing that you may not have thought of is keeping the muscles of the upper back esp between the shoulder blades strong. The 4 strokes over develop the front of the chest and balancing the muscles out is important. The regular rotator cuff stretching and strengthening is important but don't force your flexibility too fast.

I hope this helps, keeping a high bent elbow on recovery and a flatter hand entry will also help. Not using paddles in the first 500m of a workout and not over using paddles will also help.

Good luck, Gareth Eckley.

July 5th, 2003, 06:27 PM
I'm a swimmer in a situation much like Jerrycat's. All of the above advice is very helpful for me. My shoulder has been sore since last Tuesday and I had been doing everything the above posters say cause shoulder injury: swimming too much, too soon; not stretching; overreaching. When my fingers started going numb and tingling, I went to a doctor. The verdict was that inflamation is probably pinching or otherwise pressing on a nerve. I was told not to swim crawl for 4 to 6 weeks.

What should my next step be? My coach thinks that in addition to being boring, 4-6 weeks of kicking with fins is excessive. Do I seek the advice of a physical therapist or go to another doctor?

The icing (3x /day) is very helpful. Thanks for such great advice, and, Jerrycat, hope your shoulder pain is getting better.

July 5th, 2003, 07:54 PM
I'd recommend you see an orthopedist, preferably one who specializes in sports medicine. He or she can order x rays or an MRI if appropriate and then refer you to a physical therapist. Rest alone may not solve the problem if there is a muscle imbalance and/or poor stroke mechanics. Antiinflammatory medications are very helpful, especially some of the newer drugs like Vioxx or Mobic. The numbness and tingling are concerning and need to be further evaluated, as this is not typical for simple tendonitis.

July 5th, 2003, 09:17 PM
When I returned to swimming several months ago, I listened to everone's advice to start out with low yardage and increase the distance slowly. I also enlisted the help of a coach to help me with technique. (one-to-one sessions about every other week, as I couldn't afford anything else, and there wasn't a master's club in driving distance) ALL NEWBIES should heed those two suggestions. As a result I have not had ANY difficulty or injury.

After a couple of months my coach decided to take a short hiatus. She returned around the 1st of June. LOL, I guess I increased my yardage a little too slowly during her absence, because in the month she has been back she has gotten me to double my yardage, and still nothing, not even soreness--BUT the increase was under her direction not on my own and I think that is one reason I haven't had trouble.

When I first started I would look at the posted workouts and think, "Yikes, I can't do that yet." Now, I look at them and think, "That sounds like fun!" The point is this: be patient, practice good technique, the distance will come... LOL... I'm still working on the speed... I'm told that will (and is) come(ing) too!

Thanks, everyone for the good suggestions and help!