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Thread: Nagging Injury in Shoulders

  1. #1

    Nagging Injury in Shoulders

    Hi I have had Shoulder pain for about a year now with not much relief.
    A year ago my both my shoulders started burning like crazy.
    The pain was near the front deltoids and then it has progressed now to mostly being the muscle on the side of my armpit/side of body. I also feel pain near where the back of my shoulder meets my back and on the side of my shoulder. Initially I went to a sports doctor who recommended physio and ibuprofen. Nothing has helped as I have went to several physios and chiros.
    Everytime I catch the water it is painful and the longer the distance the more it hurts.
    I have noticed this pain usually only happens when I swim and sometimes I feel like the muscle on the side of my armpit swells or bulges enormously after a while of swimming. I have done multiple x-rays and ultrasounds which don't show any problems. This pain has kept me from swimming my best events.

    Although a few workouts in the year where I was ahead of my team I didn't feel the pain much but other days it hurts like crazy I guess if I'm totally not locked in.

    Any advice or help would be greatly appreciated.
    By the way I am a 15 year old male.

  2. #2
    Very Active Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Pittsburgh, PA

    Re: Nagging Injury in Shoulders

    Wow, that sounds distressing. It isn't clear there is a solution.

    If you can, find an experienced, non-surgeon, sports medicine physician or physiatrist to work with you. Be patient and compliant with any physical therapy recommended. Sometimes that takes years.

    If you take ibuprofen - or any other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug(NSAID), even aspirin - make sure you take it with food. That stuff will wreck your stomach. Ice is the cleanest anti-inflammatory.

    If you start thinking about some kind of surgery, make sure you get a second opinion. My inclination is to say take the more conservative recommendation. Surgery can be a quick fix, SOMETIMES. Other times, it just makes everything worse.

    Maybe there are folks here that can give you pointers on strokes and workouts, but I can't.

    Good luck
    Last edited by MickYoung; March 22nd, 2020 at 07:04 PM.

  3. #3
    Very Active Member flystorms's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Memphis, TN
    Blog Entries

    Re: Nagging Injury in Shoulders

    That sounds like some issues I had for a while with a pinched/inflamed nerve. It flares up when my stroke starts crossing over more on my breathing side. Over the years, as I feel it start to flare up, I have my coach take a look at my stroke and correct. Usually within a week or so, with tweaked stroke, it settles back down again.

    With pools closed, you'll have a lot of time to let it heal. Once back in the pool, have your coach look at your stroke.
    Kari Kennedy

  4. #4
    Very Active Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Beaverton, Oregon

    Re: Nagging Injury in Shoulders


    I urge you to get an MRI on both shoulders - front back, side, all the way around.

    It is entirely possible that your pain is caused by slight tears in one or more of the tendons in the shoulder - there are alot of them. I had pain in my right shoulder for close to 13 years - doing all the stuff you are trying. A year ago, my right long head bicep tendon detached - instant relief. My wife has had similar pain that nothing was helping. Finally had an MRI to find she has 2 slightly torn tendons - the only solution is surgery.

    So, get the MRIs done - xrays won't cut it (I don't know if ultra-sounds will or not). Then, go to an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in shoulders for a full review of the images.

    Good luck - pain is not a fun thing and definitely not worth it.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2020
    Boulder, Colorado

    Re: Nagging Injury in Shoulders

    Hello DhruvS, I hope this message helps and I am sorry ahead of time, but I am not going to sugar coat it.


    I am only going to explain your human movement system as a swimmer.

    Swimmers are PRONE to shoulder pain, in my opinion you should not be swimming. you need to get back in the water, after you have GAIN a strong shoulder stability, and even then, you still need to continue to take care of your shoulder and body, which it sounds like NO ONE has taught you how to do it.

    For the rest of the conversation, lets assume that your main stroke is FREESTYLE ( just like most swimmers)

    my guess, is that you swim A LOT of freestyle. Swimming is Open -Chained, meaning there is no stability provided for you in the water, you HAVE to provide you own stability but controlling muscles group (core, shoulder, hips, and legs). The reason why you have shoulder issues in the front of the shoulder can be from a number of things. To start looking, check to see how tight your pecs and lats are, you probably prone forward ( just every swimmer, except for backstrokes, and some times butterflyers ). Your lat connects in the front of the shoulder, to the same ligaments that the pec do, therefore if you have tight lats and tight pecs, you are going to feel a lot of pain (pain in your armpit). These two main muscles are probably supper tight, making other synergist muscle groups become prime movers.

    The pain in the back side of your shoulder is you posterior delt, it has become another prime mover because you have not being firing your shoulder stabilizers ( Serratus anterior,subclavius, sternocleidomastiods, levator scapulae, rhomboid major and minor, trapezius upper-middle-and name a few) - all these muscles have become under-active (meaning dormant)- therefore other muscles have pick up the slack, muscles that are synergist have now become prime movers.

    ibuprofen? is only going to treat the symptoms, not the source.
    physios? should probably stop seeing them and wasting your time and money, i know they are not cheap.
    chiros?.... you do not have any bone problem or issues (that you mentioned, I am going to assume that for the sake of the explanation), but you could have misalignment due to tight muscles ( AGAIN, I AM NOT THERE, I CANNOT MAKE AN ASSESSMENT FOR YOU OR TREAT YOU.)
    x-rays and ultrasounds are not going to help, there is nothing broken or torn (again, i am going to assume that there is nothing broken or torn for the rest of the explanation) unless you have torn some ligaments or tendons due to overuse, and misalignment because of tight muscles.

    it seems to me that you are in a place that you really should not be swimming, but doing the work for your UNDER-ACTIVE muscle groups. This might be the only thing that could save you some pain and it will take time to reverse, again I do not know because i am not there, neither am I your coach...this is something your coach should REALLY know and teach you about.

    my advice, as a swim coach, personal trainer and a nutrition specialist (nutrition has nothing to do with this) is that you find yourself a personal trainer, who comes from a swimming background (not high school or college---above that), and who also knows the human movement system VERY WELL and can help you in person.

    if i am saying anything at all, is that please do not continue to make it worst by swimming or you are going to need to have shoulder surgery....and even then, you are not guaranteed to swim again.

    I know that this is a lot, but it really is not. All you should be doing is foam rolling, and stretching your OVER-ACTIVE muscles and working on you UNDER-ACTIVE muscles. AGAIN, I AM NOT TELLING TO DO THIS IN ANY SHAPE OR FORM, NOR AM I PRESCRIBING YOU EXERCISES. I am simply explain what is happening in your condition in regards to the Human Movement System.

    I know it can be annoying with the upper caps, but i have to protect myself and my licenses.

    anyways, i hope this gives you some light on what is happening and if you have any questions or concerns feel free to get back to me and ill answer as best as i can, and hopefully we can find you some one in your area that can help you.
    This should not happen to a 15 yr old, or anyone for the that matter, and to be honest its lack of education and understanding and its NOT from your side. You just do what you love best, Swimming.

    Cheers, Stay Safe

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