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Thread: Returning from shoulder injury

  1. #1
    Active Member
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    Oct 2016
    Babson Park, FL

    Question Returning from shoulder injury

    About four months ago while doing an open water competition I started noticing a little discomfort in my right should while swimming crawl. I took about a week off of training and then worked back up to my 5K. I then swam the Corsiquana (sp?) Cup 5K and got beat up pretty badly by the surf, did not finish, and had more shoulder pain. Took another week off, iced, and so on. Went back in and swam the Pan Am open water 5K and had major issues, finished but not pretty. Shoulder pain got worse. Then, because it was paid for already, flew up to the Northeast and swam another event. I have not swam for about a month and a half until Friday (yesterday).

    I talked with my doctor about it and he wasn't that concerned about it, said rest it and give it time. I should also say that I am not able to take NSAID's for pain and stuff.

    I did a 400M warm-up (long course), then did a slow set of 8 x 50 crawl then 8 x 50 breast (my stroke of choice), and then for the hell of it did 2 x 50 back, and 1 x 50 fly, and then 200M warm down. See, I was trying to be a good boy and not kill myself easing back in (I'm not a good liar, someone started back-washing the filters and once I could no longer see the lines I gave up).

    Shoulder pain is back in my right shoulder, not severe, but a dull aching anytime I rotate the arm (or when my dogs pull the leash hard that I hold in that hand). As I was swimming I noticed I do not have problems with the breaststroke, but the crawl and backstroke hurt. Couldn't really tell on the fly as I suck at that stroke and am more worried about not drowning than being in pain.

    Suggestions? Anyone ever do all breaststroke workouts while recovering from an injury? Am I nuts to even think about trying?


  2. #2
    Very Active Member Allen Stark's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2002

    Re: Returning from shoulder injury

    i don't recommend BR only workouts as pretty soon you will have knee pain as well. I have done BR and BR pull/Dolphin kick with fins only workouts. I have done dog paddle only workouts. after my rotator cuff surgery in May I did kick only workouts for 2 months and am still not doing full strength pulls with my left arm. Keep swimming whatever you can that doesn't hurt.
    "To strive,to seek,to find,and not to yield" Tennyson

  3. #3
    Participating Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Richmond, CA

    Re: Returning from shoulder injury

    Sorry to hear about your shoulder. I, too, have had shoulder injuries. Here's what's worked for me:

    1. Ice
    2. Voltaren gel - prescription in states, but can get it OTC in Canada and elsewhere
    3. one arm stroke -free, back, fly
    4. snorkel - try this, it may be okay
    5. LOTS of kicking, especially with snorkel, arms at side
    6. Sleeping position - you may be sleeping on your shoulder which may aggravate it, I had to train myself to not sleep on the bad side

    Good luck!


  4. #4
    Very Active Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Cedar Park, TX

    Re: Returning from shoulder injury

    time for you to get a set of bands and learn the in/out/saw modalities

    buy it in 10ft lengths on amazon for cheapest prices

    get yellow,green, blue and maybe black. loop it through a closed door pull (ie a loop that had a knob on the end to not pull through) and do 3x15 and work your way up the color list...then 2 bands at a time in color combos.

    sounds very much like infraspurnatus/terres minor issue
    gotta be nice to those little muscles and tendons or they will tell you about it

  5. #5
    Very Active Member
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    Jul 2007
    Pittsburgh, PA

    Re: Returning from shoulder injury

    Age is really important in terms of planning recovery. An overuse injury when you're 30 something that might take 6 months o heal. A very similar injury when you are 50 might take two years and when you're 60+, there is a real question as to ever recovering.

    I'm 65.

    In my 50's, I did a 2.25 mile open water "race" yearly. I did personal best times when I was 57. then 58, then 59. I posted here a lot then. The water was in no danger of catching fire from my 40 minute miles, though.

    When I was 59, I kept my workouts going in the fall after my race was over, but then pulled back when I started having mild right shoulder pain. When I started again in the spring, I got my doctor to refer me to PT, more-or-less prophylacticly.

    Three weeks before my race, with considerable assistance from the Big-Medicine-Sports-Medicine-Center that wasn't paying much attention to me in their assembly line process, my right shoulder blew out.

    Surgery was recommended by one surgeon, but discouraged by the 2nd opinion and my PC doc who I trust. I used to work in a Big-Medicine-Orthopedic-OR,and I have significant issues with surgeons, so no cutting for me.

    The next year a bicycle fall injured my left shoulder. (Details available, but reading could cause eyeglass damage and facial contusions from excessive face-palming, so I'll just leave it as "jackass."). Again, surgery possible, but not highly recommended.

    In 2016, I tried to build back up to my end-of-July 2.25 mi. I was successful at a 1.2 mile race at the beginning of june(if you call 70 minutes "successful"), but had some R shoulder pain working out at maybe 1200 yards 3X a week later in June, so I dropped out.

    I occasionally consult a triathlon swimming coach, who is an ER doc. She uses the Total Immersion method and one consult a year or so was very helpful in my 50's to get my personal bests.

    She recommended
    She recommended that I practice my form, try to kick hard, but with my arms, DO NOT PUSH. At all. Like, put my hands where they should be and let the water move them along, then get the arm back in front of me, mindfully, with good form, but slowly.

    It turns out this is not easy. But it seems to be working with no shoulder issues. Oddly enough, my general fitness is really, REALLY helped by even short slow workouts.

    When I was ramping up for the race when I turned 60, I was kicking over 1500 yards a week. Had I persisted ust with that, I could have kept in shape, I think. I couldn't motivate myself to go to the pool to kick, though.

    So in July, I started doing 300 yards 3 X per week. If I keep increasing the workouts, like 100 yards every two weeks, I'll be able to do the 2.25 next July. I'm at 900 yards per workout now, so issues.

    <voice ="Yo' momma so fat">" I am SO slow continents drift past me when I do my laps.

    Since I was in my late 20's, I try to do a mile in minutes in under my age in years. I was 29 when I first did that and- for me at least- a sub-29 minute mile was an accomplishment.

    My milestones include trying to do a sub-65 minute mile before the end of the year. If I can do that I have a chance,-just a chance- at completing the 2.25 next July. ("Team DFL strikes again!"). I calculated a projection of my current time and it's something like an 88 minute mile. I expect to start working on "speed" (i.e. movement in a vaguely forward direction) in early November.

    If this doesn't work, I might have to become (JFC!) a noodler. (sorry Elaine).

  6. #6
    Very Active Member flystorms's Avatar
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    Nov 2012
    Memphis, TN
    Blog Entries

    Re: Returning from shoulder injury

    ^^^ Funniest post in a long time! Iím not laughing at your injury, of course , but your wonderful, dry tone.
    "If your ship doesn't come in, swim out to meet it." - Jonathan Winters, actor and comedian

  7. #7
    aka Elaine-iaK & Aqua Dog ElaineK's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2010

    Re: Returning from shoulder injury

    Quote Originally Posted by flystorms View Post
    ^^^ Funniest post in a long time! Iím not laughing at your injury, of course , but your wonderful, dry tone.
    Agreed! Mick, you cracked me up! Good luck with your shoulder and goal of beating out the continental drift next July. Whatever you do, don't go over to the dark side.

    ~ Believing in your dreams can be far more rewarding than living by your limitations ~Karla Peterson

  8. #8
    Participating Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2011

    Re: Returning from shoulder injury

    I personally tend to have shoulder twinges after open water swimming especially if the water is chaotic. It turns my stroke chaotic!!! I end up with a tight stroke and too fast cadence. I agree with the above mentioned bands for dry land work and the advice for the breast stroke. I would add advice first to calm down. I know you want to get the most out of your workout but for the sake of your stroke - relax! Use fins to help you relax while staying on pace. Second shorten your stroke so that you pull your hand out of the water sooner which protects you from over rotating. Have someone check other parts of your stroke for over rotation.

  9. #9
    Active Member
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    Mar 2008
    Hampshire, UK

    Re: Returning from shoulder injury

    Totally agree Mick as I too am 65 and i too am 8 years post damaging my shoulder. Very frustrating and with many false dawns of recovery during that time.

    I was determined not to have surgery. Dont really know why, except i know of lots of folk that have had some with varying degrees of success.

    My current plan consists of :

    - having alternative sports activities - i took up golf at age 60 / helped form a walking group / started online rowing - alternative sports use different muscles/ i meet new people/ helps put injuries in perspective and cheers me up a lot.

    - swimming in very different ways other than my main stroke freestyle - many as suggested above - surprisingly I currently do much more fly than i used to. Actually its flop more than fly, but two arms help each other when synchronised AND more importantly the shoulder rotation action is slightly different from freestyle, allowing sore tendons to rest and recuperate.

    - take advantage of good days or weeks - i had a good spell during October and used my Nationals entries and got 2 golds & 2 silvers with unexpectedly steady times. I never know when the pain will return so i still enter all the usual meets in the hope i will be okay on the day. Hmmm... actually 1 in 4 meets is all i manage most times now

    - keeping my metres and miles totals going. No matter how slowly i train, i know that time in the water is good good good. If pain receeds, as it does from time to time, i know i have basic fitness to get a shift on, as we say here in the uk

    BTW my handicap is down to 19 - yeah!


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