View Full Version : tendonitis

September 5th, 2006, 03:11 PM
I have been having tendonitis problems in my right shoulder. I stopped swimming for a week and a half to give it a rest. I also took ibuprofen and started doing more exercises to strengthen my shoulder. After getting back in the water today, I was extremely disappointed to find out that it now hurts even more. Any suggestions? Thanks.

September 5th, 2006, 03:56 PM
This question appears regularly on this forum--you might try using the search option. More than likely you are suffering from swimmer's shoulder, or more precisely impingement, typically involving the supraspinatus tendon (part of the rotator cuff). Personally I favor having it looked at by an orthopedist who specializes in sports medicine and who can refer you to a physical therapist. Rest alone is not sufficient--you need to address the underlying cause, usually a muscle imbalance. The link below is from the USA Swimming website and is a nice summary of commonly prescribed exercises. However, a physical therapist can tailor a rehab program specifically for you. I prefer Aleve as an antiinflammatory agent. I also recommend ice after working out and at bedtime. If you use paddles, I'd suggest putting them aside.


September 5th, 2006, 04:21 PM
Thanks for the suggestions!

The Fortress
October 4th, 2006, 11:39 AM

I had two nasty bouts of tendonitis last year and I mostly swam through them. (When I tried resting, it just came right back anyway.) It's my left shoulder and my infraspinatus muscle that gets me. See the orthopedist, but physical therapy helped me zilch. I'm better after: (1) putting on fins for the majority of practice; (2) losing the paddles; (3) lose the kickboard too -- who needs it for kicking?; (4) ice after practice; and (5) trying ART therapy, active release therapy with a chiropractor who treats swimmers, triathletes and cyclists. It took awhile, but it worked for me. Oh, I also use hand weights religiously to keep the small rotator cuff muscles strong. I like aleve too.

Leslie P.S. When I take off the fins for a long freestyle set or fly, I really pay the price. So I put up people thinking I'm a "cheater." At least I'm pain free.

October 4th, 2006, 12:03 PM
Maybe I was just fortunate and was referred to the right therapist. I know that I would not be swimming now without physical therapy. I can swim fly and only use fins on kick sets.

October 4th, 2006, 12:22 PM
Time out of the pool did not help me at all...it made it worse. Keep swimming regularly, but not to the point of pain. If you can only swim 100 easy before it hurts then start kicking and save your arms for the next day. Along with my physical therapy, keeping my shoulder active really helped me out. If I missed 3 to 4 days of swimming, when I returned the pain was worse than it was when I got out of the pool last time! Keep it moving! I think immobilizing the joint starts something along the lines of adhesive capsulitis and makes the problem worse.

I did the cuff exercises and took NSAID's from time to time. I found it best to take them just before swimming. The reduction of inflammation is most important when you are moving the joint around. (I think gull80 gave me that advice...I was afraid to mask the pain and make things worse) Ice never did much for me and I have pretty much stopped doing the exercises these days. I am pain free but I am also religious about keeping proper form and not increasing my yardage significantly at any one time. As a matter of fact, I have been swimming fewer yards at a higher intensity.

Good luck to you.

The Fortress
October 4th, 2006, 12:22 PM
Craig: Let me clarify. I went to a physical therapist initially too. There's where I got many of the exercises I do now. But the process of going there for 4 weeks 2x a week didn't really help me. Perhaps it was because I didn't rest enough or start back slowly enough. All I know is that, with the shoulder exercises, ART worked wonders for me and I was on the table for 20 minutes. I swim lots of fly now (not 200s in meets, mind you). I may try weaning myself off fins more, although I'm not as philosophically opposed to fin use as some people. But the bottom line is that my shoulders are all full of scar tissue and loose cartilege from my youth. Not that much you can do about that except keep it in check and be careful. I'm glad you survived the experience so well! It can be very trying.

October 4th, 2006, 12:34 PM
But the process of going there for 4 weeks 2x a week didn't really help me.

My experience may have been different. I went weekly for several weeks but did the exercises at home daily (and continue to do so). The orthopedist recommended at least six months of therapy before considering surgery. After six months I did notice improvement. I added yardage slowly, threw away the paddles, and cautiously began swimming fly again (after several months). For me it was a very slow process. Initially I experienced pain after 1500 yards or less, and I was using antiinflammatory drugs daily. I think the key to successful PT is the home program.

The Fortress
October 4th, 2006, 05:31 PM
You're definitely right about the home program. I think you were more patient than me. PT and my home program did not resolve my pain. But ART and my home program did. ART helped break up all the scar tissue. And I swam throughout. I was patient enough to ramp the fly up gradually. I guess it just depends on how and where the and the extent of your injury.

October 6th, 2006, 04:25 PM
Besides all the sound advice provided by everyone thus far I also have found gentle activation of the affected area to be helpful. I seek ranges of motion -- often loosely related to one or more of the strokes -- in which I experience no pain or pain that's very moderated. I move gently through those ranges. My non-professional opinion is that increasing blood flow to the affected area, as well as exercising other muscles in the area, is beneficial to the healing process.
It also makes me feel as if I'm participating as fully as possible in my recovery, rather than being a passive patient.

October 7th, 2006, 10:41 PM
Try this and tell me what happens. I've had a swimmer who was cured of shoulder problems by lifting his had out of the water differently. He rolled more and at the exit point of his freestyle he rotated his hand so he could look at his palm. This method of recovery enlisted the larger muscles of the shoulder and his entry remained identical. Email me at tomtopo@netzero.com if it helps. Good luck