PDA

View Full Version : Shoulder Problems



gufyduck
July 17th, 2007, 12:18 AM
Hi everyone. I have been doing the interval based workouts posted on the workout section and really enjoying them. However, whenever I try to move up to a faster interval (and add more yards) my left shoulder gets very sore. Does any one have suggestions on how I can strengthen my shoulders to help handle more yards?

There isn't a master's team where I live, but the age group couch has "stroke clinics" for adults that I have been going to once a week to make sure I am using good technique and am not injuring myself with strokes.

Thanks in advance!
~Nicole

david.margrave
July 17th, 2007, 12:27 AM
This article discusses shoulder strengthening to prevent injuries.

http://www.usaswimming.org/USASWeb/ViewMiscArticle.aspx?TabId=445&Alias=Rainbow&Lang=en&mid=702&ItemId=700

gufyduck
July 17th, 2007, 06:00 PM
Thanks for the link. I will definitely start working on the exercises.

rtodd
July 17th, 2007, 08:23 PM
As a new swimmer I went through a shoulder problem several years ago. I trained easier and kept swimming and eventually it went away. Now I just have occasional sore shoulders, but nothing acute.

Have this coach be sure your mechanics are correct, like not having too deep an underwater pull and/or dropping elbows.

Are you relatively new, or been swimming a long time? What is your yardage per workout on average? Is it all freestyle?

Go into detail about these things and alot of people here can give good advice.

gufyduck
July 17th, 2007, 09:05 PM
OK, background: was on an age group swim team from 12-17, when I graduated High school. By the time I got to college, I was burned out and quit. Eight years later, I took one of my classes (i'm a teacher) to the local pool for a field trip, and while sitting on the deck, realized how much i missed being in the water, so that following Saturday, I grabbed a suit, and headed down to the pool for some laps.

My workouts are a mixture of all the strokes, but a majority of my workouts are freestyle based. I have been doing anywhere between 2000 -2500 yards per night. More recently, I have been hitting the 2500 mark until my shoulder started hurting. It is most painful on backstroke, followed by free. Oddly enough, fly doesn't seem to cause too many problems. My breast stroke is horrible, but causes no problems.

My coach says my freestyle pull is great, not too deep. He did spend some time with me on getting my elbows up higher, which is now corrected.

I hope that helps!

The Fortress
July 17th, 2007, 09:56 PM
If your shoulders are bothering you, you definitely need to do some rotator cuff and scapular stabilizing exercises. I had the same problem when I started back two years ago. I still have grumpy shoulders, but found out from an arthrogram that I have a frayed labrum, mostly likely from overuse from age group training. The worst fraying or tearing is in the back of my labrum, or shoulder socket, so fly and free hurt me more. Could be, don't know, that your issue is in the front of your shoulder and that's why backstroke hurts more. Or you don't have those snazzy hyperextended elbows.

The exercises in the prior post are good. Check out posts #57 and 59 in http://forums.usms.org/showthread.php?t=7405&highlight=whining+complaining, which lists many threads on the origin and treatment of shoulder problems. In that same thread, toward the end, swimr4life gives some great advice on RC exercises too. Good luck. If the pain does not abate with the exercises, you may need to go see a good orthopod. If it comes to that, hopefully not, try to find one who knows something about swimming. My problem was misdiagnosed as tendonitis from the beginning. (I probably did have tendonitis, but that was not the chronic problem.) Good luck, Nicole! Welcome back!

scyfreestyler
July 18th, 2007, 12:13 AM
All great advice here. One thing I would add is that these exercises should be done after swim practice or several hours before practice. You will be fatiguing the cuff muscles with the controlled exercises so you don't want that fatigue to carry over into swim practice where your shoulder movements are not as controlled.

david.margrave
July 18th, 2007, 12:17 AM
I just use surgical tubing from the pharmacy for the exercises. Back in the 80s I had a coach who was big on surgical tubing for stretching and strengthening. Has anyone actually gone and bought therabands and are they better than surgical tubing?

scyfreestyler
July 18th, 2007, 12:20 AM
My PT gave me the therabands the first time around and when I wore them out they sold me some new ones for five bucks. Surgical tubing should work fine as well..as long as the reistance is appropriate.

gufyduck
July 18th, 2007, 09:25 PM
Thanks for the replies everyone. I looked into the rotator cuff and scapular stabilizing exercises, and they look like a lot of what I did when i dislocated my other shoulder. So I have started those exercises again. At one point, I had some elastic cords given to me by while i was in PT, but I have no clue where they are, so I am using therabands from an old ankle injury. Hopefully I will get some small, light weights to begin some of the weight exercises instead of just the band ones.

The posts Fortress referred to were interesting. I know I have always had very loose shoulders, to the extreme that the physical therapist did not want me to regain my original range of motion. She also nailed exactly where the pain is, right in the front of my shoulder.

Thanks for the great advice everyone!

The Fortress
July 18th, 2007, 10:00 PM
Thanks for the replies everyone. I looked into the rotator cuff and scapular stabilizing exercises, and they look like a lot of what I did when i dislocated my other shoulder. So I have started those exercises again. At one point, I had some elastic cords given to me by while i was in PT, but I have no clue where they are, so I am using therabands from an old ankle injury. Hopefully I will get some small, light weights to begin some of the weight exercises instead of just the band ones.

The posts Fortress referred to were interesting. I know I have always had very loose shoulders, to the extreme that the physical therapist did not want me to regain my original range of motion. She also nailed exactly where the pain is, right in the front of my shoulder.

Thanks for the great advice everyone!

Crap, another victim of the genetic loosey gooseys. All I can say is that Beth and I are RC exercise devotees. I also lift weights (no bench press!). When I stop lifting weights, my shoulders hurt more. My doc says the weight lifting (moderate) is what allows me to keep swimming.

Pain in the front of the shoulder is the most typical symptom of tendonitis. If that's what it is, avid RC exercises and some recovery swims should help. PTs sometimes tell you to rest. Unless it's bad, I don't like rest. Neither do others. I get stiffer with rest.

Watch those stretches too! You don't want to make yourself more loosey goosey than you already are. Flexibility is great, but it also makes you more injury prone.

gull
July 19th, 2007, 10:57 AM
I'd also suggest ice after you swim and again at bedtime. Antiinflammatory agents might be a bit controversial, but I personally use Aleve when necessary (pain=inflammation).

gufyduck
July 19th, 2007, 12:26 PM
Crap. I hate dealing with tendinitis. I have dealt with it in both ankles before, and definitely want to get it dealt with before it becomes very bad. Can I ask exactly what a "recovery swim" is? Usually when my shoulders are bugging me, i make sure i go easy for the night. If I am doing intervals, i do a very easy interval so my shoulders have time to rest between swims. If one stroke gives me more problems (usually back), i avoid it. If my shoulders start hurting, i rest, try a little stretching, and put on fins. If it doesn't help, i either just kick or get out.

Usually I don't like to completely stop for more than a few days (although I did stop for a week earlier this month). I try to do more with stretching, going easy, and making sure I am listening to what my body is telling me. I have also found that taking Glucosamine has helped in the past, so I've been taking that again as well.

I'll also stop stretching, or at least cut it way back. I never thought of it doing more harm than good.

Right now my usual schedule is I swim from 6:30-7:45, go home, eat dinner, do RC exercises, then out come two ice packs. Even though my right shoulder is rarely painful, it always feels good to put an ice pack on it, so i have a feeling that there is trouble starting, and i am just keeping it at bay. I use Advil for pain/inflammation. My theory on anti-inflammatory meds is pretty much the same as yours, that if there is pain, there is inflation going on, and will use them when things get bad. However, I only take at bedtime to avoid hiding pain.

scyfreestyler
July 19th, 2007, 12:42 PM
I think taking some NSAID's before swimming would be a grand idea. If there is inflamation and impingement the NSAID's will help to alleviate that issue when the joint is most active. We are not talking about rx pain killers here, I don't think you will be masking any real pain (I was once concerned about the same thing you are and found it to be untrue).

As I was recovering from my shoulder problems I would swim free until I started to feel discomfort and then resort to kicking for the balance of my yardage or time. Today I rarely stretch before getting in the water. I will do some light stretches for my lats and triceps throughout the day, especially after a hard swim the night before, but nothing like I used to do. I find that about 400 yards of easy 50's gets me stretched out sufficiently to have a good workout.

gufyduck
July 19th, 2007, 06:07 PM
The main reason I'm hesitant to take a NSAID before exercising is because back in college, I wore crappy shoes one day before I was to go out on a long hike with friends. By the end of the day, I was in so much pain, I literally could not stand up, but being stubborn, I took 4 Advil, and started to hike. 4 hours later, i popped 4 more, and continued like that for the rest of the weekend. It took 6 months of physical therapy, 2 months of crutches once I stopped the Advil and three years later, my ankles still bother me at times and are easily injured.

Just from that weekend of extreme stupidity, I tend to be over cautious of using anything that can mask pain. If its hurting, I want to know. However, I think I will just take Advil at bedtime all week to hopefully get my shoulders really calmed down.

scyfreestyler
July 19th, 2007, 06:10 PM
You took a LOT of Advil.

gufyduck
July 20th, 2007, 01:51 AM
I learned my lesson, but still prefer to be over cautious than reckless.

The Fortress
July 20th, 2007, 08:42 AM
You took a LOT of Advil.

I know people who live on this stuff. I rarely take it anymore. Not supposed to anyway since I'm doing prolotherapy. But too many anti-inflammatories, like cortisone, slow the healing process. You probably already know this. There is no evidence regarding the efficacy of glucosamine, but I know people that swear by it too.

Lay off backstroke. Ramp up the kicking. Although I think it's a mistake to kick exclusively unless you really have to. It's too boring. You'd probably have better results by wearing some fins if needed and mixing in more kicking IMHO.

Might not want to do consecutive killer workouts in a row and go one easy, one hard for awhile if you think you have tendonitis.

swim4sanity
July 20th, 2007, 10:57 AM
I have had shoulder problems since swimming in high school, genetic loosey goosey shoulders I guess. Anyhoo I changed one thing about freestyle and it helped tremendously but it is not "conventional". Rather than enter my hand sideways, my hand enters palm down, fingertips first, elbows high. After my hand enters I pull down a little and then scull outwards a bit. Does that make sense? I combined this with many of the RC and other stabilizing exercises on my off days or the night before a practice. It has made a huge difference. It is not for everybody but it worked for this long time tendonitis sufferer.

Willow
July 20th, 2007, 01:09 PM
I have the dang loose shoulders too, loose everything. I had to give up practicing shiatsu because my thumbs bend at the first joint at a 90 degree angle! I'm Gumby.

One thing I feel compelled to point out, is if you have loose shoulder joints you should do everything you can to avoid side sleeping. Train yourself to sleep on your back with your arms down at your sides. It helps ALOT.

Willow

gufyduck
July 20th, 2007, 10:08 PM
You guys are awesome here. Right now I have decided to swim Monday, Tuesday (stroke work with coach), Thursday, and Saturday. Trying to avoid back to back days in the water at the moment.

Its been a week since my shoulders forced me out of the water, and for the most part they seem to be doing better on the reduced yardage. Fins have been great this week, and if the shoulder got too much, I just kicked. The weird thing is using a kick board actually hurt more, so i just ditched it.

Swim4Sanity: what you described was actually one change my coach has already made me make. He told me that he has noticed an increase in tendinitis in people who enter with their hand sideways. I am working on making this a habit, and try to stay aware of it during workouts. I'm doing the RC exercises almost every day, always in the evening, and after swimming if i swim for the day

willow: I'll try making the change to sleep on my back. My problem is i have a major habit of sleeping on my stomach, one arm at my side, one arm under my head as a pillow. Unfortunately, I am a very squirmy sleeper, so even if I fall asleep on my back, there is no guarantee i will wake up that way. But all I can do is try!

The Fortress
July 20th, 2007, 11:04 PM
Do not use a kickboard! Sorry, should have mentioned. No need for a kickboard to kick and kick fast. Although I do like my monofin. No paddles either when shoulder are an issue.

And don't put your hand in sideways. Argh. Ouch.

I think you are correct on the sleeping issue. Alas, I am a side, squirmy, tossy sleeper. It's much better to sleep on the back. Easier said than done though. Maybe pillows would help. These days, when my shoulder/neck/trap is sore, I know it is very likely due to how I'm sleeping. Which is atrocious. Try and try again sleeping on your back, especially if you don't have sleep issues.

Oh, and loosey goosey joints are no good for running either. Might as well stick with swimming. Loose ankles = running injury.

Mia Kopela
July 21st, 2007, 07:16 AM
Try and try again sleeping on your back, especially if you don't have sleep issues.
Isn't sleeping on your back bad for your lower back? Sleeping on your stomach is bad for your neck, and if sleeping on the side is ruled out as well, there doesn't really seem to be an option. Anyone figured out how to sleep suspended in the air? ;)

scyfreestyler
July 21st, 2007, 09:16 AM
Sleeping on your shoulders can be a real no no. Funny that this was brought up as I somehow did this the other night and woke up with a VERY sore shoulder. It's a fair amount more comfortable now but all through my swim last night I could tell that the muscles were a little out of tune because of that mistake.

Willow
July 21st, 2007, 10:14 AM
I was a diehard shoulder sleeper until my most recent episode with neck/shoulder pain, where both of my shoulders would hurt like a mofo with the simplest arm movements, and tendons would go *TWANG* with the slightest medial rotation. I simply could not sleep on my side and endure the total collapse of the shoulder joint that comes with the position. Nothing like PAIN to make you change your habits! I got a memory foam pillow (has a small neck roll on one side and a slightly larger neck roll on the opposite side, and a head-cradling concavity in between) and I sleep now on my back with 2 pillows under my knees (this helps it be just weird enough if you do turn on youir side in your sleep that it serves as an unconscious deterrant to doing so), with my arms relaxed straight at my sides, not crossed over my chest, not flung hither and yon, just boringly straight by my sides. Combining that with some private coaching on my stroke, perpetual posture awareness (shoulders back and down in a ballet "back connection" position) no jutting my head forward while computing, and weight training to stabilize my shoulders, and I feel normal again!

I gotta say, though, I really miss the fetal position.

Willow

The Fortress
July 21st, 2007, 12:01 PM
[quote=Willow;100631]I was a diehard shoulder sleeper until my most recent episode with neck/shoulder pain/quote]

I am a die hard shoulder sleeper. And I always want to sleep on my injured left shoulder. :shakeshead: I've tried breaking out of this rut, but can't seem to. I hate sleeping on my back. Lately, when I've had shoulder pain, I think it's from my sleeping position more than my training. But I'm such a bad sleeper anyway, I hate to muck with my sleep position. But I really wish I could switch to being a back sleeper. Maybe that will be my new long term goal and I can report a major breakthrough on that score some day. LOL. (I am doing much better on the posture and head jutting score!)

Also, I don't have any back issues, but I thought sleeping on your back was good for people with back problems? That's what Mr. Fort was told to do.

gufyduck
July 23rd, 2007, 12:07 PM
Dang. I've been trying to switch to sleeping on my back the past three nights, but absolutely no luck. Unfortunately, I think my shoulder is made worse by how I sleep, since the right one is taking longer to recover, even though it was not as bad as the left. Grrr.

This is going to be a long road.

Slowswim
July 23rd, 2007, 12:19 PM
Since my shoulder issues started, I kind of just migrated to being a back sleeper.

I started by sleeping on my chest. After a few nights, it became comfortable and I rolled over to my back. I rarely roll on my side, but when I do I can tell in the morning.

Maybe, it'll work for you. Good luck.

The Fortress
July 24th, 2007, 10:46 AM
There is an excellent book/phamphlet with RC, scapular and core exercises at www.rotatorcuffrelief.com. The illustrations and explanation are very good. Worth the $. I need to add some of these exercises to my regimen and vary it more so I don't die of boredom.

gufyduck
July 24th, 2007, 01:00 PM
I'm curious, how does this book compare to the "Buchberger 12" that I saw talked about earlier? I am definitely like you, i need variation to save myself from boredom.

The Fortress
August 1st, 2007, 05:30 PM
I'm curious, how does this book compare to the "Buchberger 12" that I saw talked about earlier? I am definitely like you, i need variation to save myself from boredom.

The book has a wider array of simpler exercises. I don't have the Buchberger 12 book, but I watched the video many months ago. I seem to recall that the Buchberger exercises are more complicated, multi-step exercises. I probably need to review the vid again. I also understand that Dr. Buchberger has introduced even more new exercises at his recent clinics.

For those considering a non-surgical alternative to shoulder issues or an escape from chronic tendonitis or tendonosis, check out http://www.treatingpain.com/?page=prpr-therapy.

I've had four prolotherapy treatments, but I'm switching over to plasma regeneration next month. My doc estimates it's covered by insurance 75% of the time and that it's more effective, more quickly than prolo.

gufyduck
August 2nd, 2007, 08:40 PM
For those considering a non-surgical alternative to shoulder issues or an escape from chronic tendonitis or tendonosis, check out http://www.treatingpain.com/?page=prpr-therapy.

I've had four prolotherapy treatments, but I'm switching over to plasma regeneration next month. My doc estimates it's covered by insurance 75% of the time and that it's more effective, more quickly than prolo.

I think if/when I go to the doc for my shoulder, I need to try to find a different doctor. His advice for any injury has always been rest and physical therapy. And stopping whatever activity caused the injury has always been suggestion #1.

The Fortress
August 2nd, 2007, 09:12 PM
I think if/when I go to the doc for my shoulder, I need to try to find a different doctor. His advice for any injury has always been rest and physical therapy. And stopping whatever activity caused the injury has always been suggestion #1.

I went that route too. It didn't work and I sought other answers. In my own experience, it's best to question this type of canned response. Indeed, I seem to recall Jayhawk posting an article in a thread awhile ago opining that one should NOT rest to cure an injury. There are alternative treatments. Interestingly, it seems I know more triathletes than swimmers that use them. I don't know why.

If you find your shoulders hurting again, and PT isn't helping, try ART. www.activerelease.com. There are several swimmers on this forum that do ART. I think it's much more effective in battling shoulder tendonitis than PT, when combined with RC exercises.

gufyduck
August 3rd, 2007, 01:30 AM
I'll definitely consider looking into ART if my shoulder doesn't respond to the RC exercises. I looked at the page, and unfortunately, the closest ART person is over an hour away. I might also get the book they have, and see what I can do on my own.

Thanks for all your advice! You rock!

slowfish
August 6th, 2007, 07:41 PM
I've had on and off shoulder problems for several years and did the rotator cuff exercises with bands and weights. i kind of just gave up casue i didn't hurt that bad. last october, i started doing this weight training routine to get stroner for tri-training but it had the unexpected benefit of virtually eliminating my shoulder problems.

My upper body exercisers are:

1. bench press
2. biceps
3. triceps
4. lat pull downs
5. dumbell pullovers
6. and one i don't know the name of but you use very, very light weights, start with arms out to you side palms down, lift both arms out to the side and when your arms are straight out to the side rotate your palms and finish raising your arms till they are straight over head.

i only do 2 sets of 10-12 of each twice a week.

i guess i just needed the balance!

good luck...

gufyduck
August 9th, 2007, 01:04 AM
Its been a few weeks, so I thought I'd post an update. I've been doing the RC exercises regularly, around 4-5 days a week, and things have been improving. I had one set back about a week and a half ago (mainly due to my stupidity), but seem to be headed back on the right track. I have also started warming up with fins on, no matter how my shoulders feel. This seems to make a huge difference for me.

As for the sleeping on the back issue, i think i finally have figured out a partial solution. I bought a memory foam mattress cover, along with a more supportive neck pillow yesterday, and I finally managed to fall asleep on my back and wake up in the same position. If it works, it will definitely be worth the money.