View Full Version : Shoulder pain

October 6th, 2002, 12:48 AM
I started swimming about three months ago. I swim two to three times a week. I recently developped a shoulder pain on my left shoulder, and it's awful after a swim. It continues for three to four days. This is not anything like what I have experienced before; it's not a muscle pain, but it's sharper and throbbing, almost like a spasm. I mostly swim in front crawl.

What am I doing wrong to cause this? How should I treat it?


October 6th, 2002, 09:58 AM
I'm not a doctor!

It sounds like tendinitis to me, especially if it is at the front of your shoulder. The likely cause would be not rolling enough onto your right side when your left arm is recovering. Learn to breathe on your left side too and you may be able to feel this imbalance.

Swim fast,

October 6th, 2002, 12:09 PM
Thank you Greg. I think you are right -- I do feel that my form is not balanced, and I also breathe on my right side only (I didn't even mention that, but you knew!)

I wonder if it's safe for me to keep swimming though with this condition -- so I can work on correcting my stroke? (I'm addicted to chlorine :-)


October 6th, 2002, 02:37 PM
Pushing too hard can make the injury worse. What you need to do is ice the sore area after you train. This will reduce the amount of swelling that is occuring and causing pain

Intially, I would begin to focus on the other strokes and try to vary your workouts more. Use a mixture of drills, kick and full stroke - especially the kick and drills. Use your arms until you hurt and then finish your workout kick. Consider kicking with fins and no board. Keep your arms at your side or kick with one arm up on your side to reduce the strain on your shoulders.

A stronger kick will help with your body position and I would also recommend more drills to improve your technique on the front crawl. Focus on rolling on to your side more. Your body should almost be perpendicular to the surface on each side. When you are pulling think of using your lat muscles. What you are trying to do is to use all of the muscles around your rotator cuff - not just the ones on the front half of your shoulder.

Shoulder injuries are similar to any other repetative strain injury- if you push too hard too early you can create a long-term painful injury.

If the pain continues to bother your, go see a doctor. Most doctors will prescribe anti-inflamitories to reduce pain and swelling.

I was wondering if you have a coach that you are working with? If not I would recommend that you talk to one to get some drills to work on. I have coached a number of swimmer - both age group and masters - with shoulder problems and have worked in conjuntion with sports therapists and doctors to rehabilitate swimmers. I caught and treated early, you can limit the amount of pain you feel and the length of time you are injured for (usually 2-3 months). Most of my swimmer's with shoulder problems have been age group swimmers going though a growth spurt as I do alot of drill and kick work with my swimmers (approx 1/4 to 1/2 of my weekly meterage) and focus on all four strokes. A well rounded swimmer with good technique will very rarely get injured.

I personally don't recommend resting and doing nothing as the injuries tend to reoccur in after you start to train again.

I hope this helps

Good Luck

October 6th, 2002, 08:51 PM
I also think you are safe in continuing to swim. I recently had a rotator cuff tear and though I've had it repaired it still bothers me when I swim. THe key is good streching before, during, and after. Don't over do any stroke. If you stop swimming you'll end up with arthritus. My shoulder may bother me some now, but no where as near as it would if I developed that. Use ice and heat as you need them.

Happy Training!

October 6th, 2002, 10:38 PM
As a temporary measure you might want to stop swimming for a few days (the kickboard is nice if used correctly) and see if it calms down by itself.
Are you using ICE after exercising? A bag of frozen peas fits nicely over the shoulder area and down the biceps tendon. Just don't use if from more than 20 minutes at a time (and perhaps wrap the bag in a light towel so you don't burn yourself). Over the counter anti-inflammatories (Advil, Motrin etc) can also help bring down the inflammation.
Your sleeping position may also be a contributing factor--do you tend to sleep with your arm wrapped around the pillow or with the elbow higher than the shoulder? Learn to sleep with arms down at the sides or with elbow BELOW shoulder.
Take it from someone who has had 6 shoulder surgeries--I kept giving myself real bad tendonitis. Some was bad mechanics and other times were "bad original equipment" (i.e. structural problems)
I do wear a biceps strap from Cho-pat (they are on the web) and it does seem to help the problem. If you catch the problem early (or learn to recognize it) you can do something about it before it gets really bad.

October 6th, 2002, 11:14 PM
Thank you everybody -- I did go swimming today, and worked on rolling on both sides. Realized how dificult it is to try to change your stroke.

I stretched before, during and after, and used ice on my shoulder too (it's on my shoulder now :-), and it seems to help.

I will keep working on my stroke!

Happy swimming,