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Thread: rotator cuff injury

  1. #1
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    rotator cuff injury

    Hey all,

    I've been swimming my whole life including a couple years on the HS team. After that it's been hit and miss, but I've been consistently in the pool the last 4 years and have been happy with my progress.

    Just the other day I was doing some lake swimming and the last 1/2 mile I felt a pull up my right side. It wasn't debilitating at the time so I kept swimming, plus I was in the middle of a lake so I kind of had to keep going. Everything felt fine until I got in the car and drove around a bit, then the shoulder got very sore and I couldn't raise it over my head.

    The next day I went to the chiropractor. He said it wasn't a tear, but the rotator cuff is strained and causing me problems. He did wonderful work and I'm very happy with him. He said it could take as long as 6-8 weeks to heal. I'm sort of resigned to that fact even though I'd signed up for a series of swims this summer that I won't be able to complete if this injury is that bad.

    This is a long story for a short question. How do I avoid injuring the rotator cuff again? Is it rotation in the water? I've been conscience of pulling from my lats in the last few weeks so as not to strain the shoulder too much.

    I've got a 5 mile swim in about a month if I can do it. How do I do it without injuring the shoulder even more?

    Thanks

  2. #2
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    Re: rotator cuff injury

    Only an MRI will tell you for certain if it's a tear or just a pull, so I'd recommend seeing an orthopedic surgeon. You don't want to mess with a rotator cuff because it can take months, not weeks to heal - ask me how I now. Initially, they said it was rotator tendinitis, but an MRI showed a tear in the tendon so now I'm looking at surgery. Don't mess around. Better to get a second opinion and a correct diagnosis so you can get back to your activities. FYI, your injury may not be related to swimming, but could have been building up over time. Just because shoulder injuries are the most common swim injuries, doesn't mean yours is, just sayin'.

  3. #3
    Very Active Member ForceDJ's Avatar
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    Re: rotator cuff injury

    Find out which of the four rotator cuff muscles is injured, and if in fact is is or is NOT torn. As Denise said above...only an MRI can show that. About three years ago I tore my rotator cuff (supraspinatus muscle)...the one that tears from throwing (among other activities). At the time I figured it was just a strain and tried to self-treat it. I took off swimming for several weeks, but when it wasn't getting any better I went to the doctor. He ordered the MRI which showed a significant tear, and referred me to an ortho surgeon. The ortho said it needed to be surgically repaired, but that I could continue swimming until the surgery, and that "swimming wouldn't cause it any more damage." The problem was...it was springtime and I'd already entered several triathlons for the summer. The ortho initially wanted to operate within a couple weeks. I told him about all the races and he said I could continue swimming and we could wait until the fall to do the surgery BUT NO LATER. So that's what I did (he also agreed to give me cortisone shots in the meantime). Swimming in that condition wasn't perfect...but I could swim. However, you probably should make sure it's OK with your doctor.

    If you decide on surgery to repair it...the recovery is an whole other sh!tstorm of misery. If you want to discuss that...bring it up once you've made the surgery decision.
    Good luck

    Dan
    Last edited by ForceDJ; July 13th, 2015 at 12:42 AM.

  4. #4
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    Re: rotator cuff injury

    eh no biggie

    when you have shoulder surgery - they shove a tool the size of a pencil right through that muscle.

    when they are done you have a tear...along with the 2 others in your deltoid

  5. #5
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    Re: rotator cuff injury

    hahahahaha, sunruh, and then you sit on the sofa watching Gray's Anatomy reruns and eating ice cream for six months.

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    Re: rotator cuff injury

    Thanks everyone so far.

    What the chiropractor is doing seems to be working. I've got more range of motion and flexibility in my arms today than I have in the past 3 days. So it's getting better. I want to wait with the MRI as long as I can. I would like to try to swim one or two of my final events this summer.

    Does anyone have advice on rotation in the water in relation to shoulder injuries?

  7. #7
    Very Active Member Swimspire's Avatar
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    Re: rotator cuff injury

    Shoulder injuries should not be taken lightly. Continue to monitor the shoulder for any changes, as you are already doing. As for preventing further injuries, my suggestion would be to get your stroke analyzed by a coach who is specialized in swimming mechanics to determine whether there are aspects of your swimming technique that may be contributing to the shoulder pain. Although rotation is a very important part of technique, there are many other areas of the stroke that need to be assessed - you might not have a strong core, you might be putting too much pressure on the upper body instead of balancing your stroke with effort from the core and legs, and so forth. It's always good to get an independent opinion, someone who can look at your stroke with fresh eyes and a different perspective. Most importantly, it is essential to not become complacent about your swimming OR try to push the limits - that can quickly lead to either injuries or a plateau in your performance. It's understandable that you should want to swim your events this summer, but don't sacrifice your shoulder simply for the fulfillment of your goals. If you want more info, this article goes into additional detail about why you should get your stroke analyzed: www.swimspire.com/get-stroke-technique-analyzed/


    Good luck!

  8. #8
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    Re: rotator cuff injury

    Julia, I'm going to call you the minute the doc says I can get back in the pool. I think all those months without swimming is going to be frustrating so I will keep thinking of how much easier it's going to be to swim without shoulder pain.

    Scott, I have been swimming with shoulder pain for months. Sometimes it was a lot better. Sometimes it was much worse. If the chiropractor is helping, that's great. But Julia's right, if it keeps coming back, it's not a realignment issue. I don't blame you for wanting to postpone an MRI. But for my part, I wish they'd done it a lot sooner so I could have gotten a correct diagnosis. I'd have had the surgery and been recuperated by now.

  9. #9
    Very Active Member Swimspire's Avatar
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    Re: rotator cuff injury

    Denise, I'm looking forward to it and all the best of luck in your recovery!

  10. #10
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    Re: rotator cuff injury

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Seibert View Post
    I want to wait with the MRI as long as I can. I would like to try to swim one or two of my final events this summer.

    Does anyone have advice on rotation in the water in relation to shoulder injuries?
    waiting is about the worst thing you can do.
    and if it is a SLAP tear and not really a cuff issue the mri wont show much if anything (i've had both mri and arthogram mri (dye injection)) and neither showed anything. heck, the texas state workers comp book says this - "a SLAP tear is observed when the surgeon inserts a probe through the tear". meaning only surgery can confirm it. i hope that is NOT your issue.

    usually pain is either up front at the catch of your stroke or at the finish before you lift your arm out for recovery for SLAP.
    for rotator cuff move your wrist up to your shoulder and then move your elbow straight back and move it around like a chicken wing.
    you will know if you feel it.
    and as always, ice ice baby!
    a bag of frozen peas or bag of frozen corn. heat ice heat ice heat ice sleep

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